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Wednesday, June 2, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 2 JUN 2010 (VIS) - In today's general audience held in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI continued with his catechesis dedicated to the great saints of the Middle Ages, speaking on St. Thomas Aquinas, called the "Angelic Doctor" for the elevated nature of his thought and the purity of his life".

  The Pope explained that Thomas was born around 1225 to a noble family in Roccasecca, Italy near the Abbey of Montecasino. He was sent to the University of Naples at a young age where he first became interested in Aristotelian thought and felt a call to the religious life.

  In 1245 he went to Paris to study theology under the guidance of St. Albert the Great who held this student in such esteem that he was asked to accompany him to Cologne, Germany to open a centre for theological studies.

  "Thomas Aquinas, at St. Albert the Great's school, carried out a task of fundamental importance in the history of philosophy and theology as well as for history and culture", the Pope said. "He studied Aristotle and his interpreters in depth" and "commented on a great part of Aristotle's works, discerning what was valid in it from what was doubtful or refutable, demonstrating its consonance with the facts of Christian revelation, using Aristotelian thought with great breadth and intelligence in presenting the theological writings he composed. In short, Thomas Aquinas demonstrated that a natural harmony exists between reason and the Christian faith".

  "His great intellectual endowment brought him again to Paris to teach theology. That is where he began his monumental literary output: commentaries on the Sacred Scriptures and the works of Aristotle along with his masterpiece, the Summa Theologiae".

  "There were a few secretaries who assisted in drafting his works, among whom was Reginald of Piperno [...] who was bound to him by a fraternal and sincere friendship characterized by great trust and reliance. This is a characteristic of the saints", the pontiff observed. "They cultivate friendship because it is one of the most noble manifestations of the human heart and holds something of the divine within it".

  In 1259 Thomas Aquinas participated in the General Chapter of the Dominicans in Valenciennes, France to establish the order's constitutions. On his return to Italy, Pope Urban IV charged him with composing the liturgical texts for the feast of Corpus Christi.

  "St. Thomas has a profoundly Eucharistic soul", the Pope affirmed. "The beautiful hymns that the liturgy of the Church sings to celebrate the mystery of the real presence of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the Eucharist are due to his faith and theological wisdom".

  In Paris, where he returned in 1269, a great number of students followed his courses, but the "Angelic Doctor" also dedicated himself to preaching to the people, who listened with attention. "It is a great gift that theologians know how to speak with simplicity and fervour to the faithful. The ministry of preaching, on the other hand, also helps those who are experts in theology to develop a healthy pastoral realism and enriches their research with stimulation", the pontiff remarked.

  In the final months of his life, St. Thomas -- who died in 1274 at the Abbey of Fossanove, Italy when he was heading to Leon to participate in an ecumenical council -- confessed to his friend Reginald of Piperno that, after a divine revelation, he considered his work as "so much straw", writing nothing further afterwards.

  "It is a mysterious episode that helps us understand not only Thomas' personal humility but also the fact that all that we are able to think and say about the faith, as elevated and pure as it may be, is infinitely surpassed by the greatness and beauty of God who will reveal himself to us in the fullness of paradise," Benedict XVI concluded.
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VATICAN CITY, 2 JUN 2010 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, the Pope noted that he has been following "with great trepidation, the tragic events that have taken place near the Gaza Strip. I feel the need to express my deepest condolences to the victims of these sorrowful events that are troubling all those who are concerned with peace in the area. I again repeat, with heavy heart, that violence does not resolve conflict but only increases its tragic consequences and generates more violence. I appeal to all political leaders at the local and international levels to constantly seek just solutions through dialogue in a way that guarantees the best condition of life, harmony, and serenity to the peoples of the area. I invite you all to join in prayer for the victims, their families, and for all those who are suffering. The Lord sustains the efforts of those who never tire of working for reconciliation and peace".
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VATICAN CITY, 2 JUN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a telegram, through Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, to Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Apostolic Nuncio to Guatemala, on the catastrophe caused by Tropical Storm Agatha that has devastated the country, leaving 150 dead and many wounded. The text follows:

  "His Holiness Benedict XVI, deeply saddened to learn of the natural disasters that are affecting this beloved nation, causing deaths, injuries, much material damage, and leaving many families homeless, offers his fervent prayers for the eternal rest of those who have died. At the same time, he asks the Lord to grant his consolation to those suffering the severe tragedies and to increase the feelings of ardent charity in the Christian community to collaborate with the reconstruction in the devastated areas. Likewise, he exhorts the international community, national institutions, and all those of good will that, moved by fraternal solidarity, they might lend effective assistance to this country so that it may overcome this difficult period".

  "The Supreme Pontiff also wishes to send his deepest condolences to the families of the deceased as well as his paternal concern and spiritual nearness to those injured and the victims, offering the heartfelt comfort of his apostolic blessing as a sign of affection for the beloved Guatemalan people who are so near to the heart of the shepherd of the universal Church".
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VATICAN CITY, 2 JUN 2010 (VIS) - Tomorrow, Thursday 3 June, the exhibit "Compostela and Europe: The History of Diego Gelmirez" will be opened in the Charlemagne Wing of the colonnade in St. Peter's Square. Diego Gelmirez, the first archbishop of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain, was fundamental in having the city's cathedral built and in promoting the Way of St. James pilgrimage.

  As presented in a communique, the exhibit "is an opportunity for the very first time to learn in depth the history of the Galician city, the Way of St. James, and Archbishop Gelmirez's decisive contribution to European Romanesque art". The exhibit, under the direction of its curator, Manuel Castineiras, a specialist in Medieval art, has been organized by the Xunta de Galicia (Galician Regional Government) within the framework of the activities planned to celebrate the 2010 "Jacobeo" Holy Year.

  The time that Gelmirez was archbishop of the Galician city was "without a doubt the golden age of Compostelan art and culture, as witnessed by the construction of the cathedral and its great facades as well as the two episcopal palaces, urban infrastructures, promotion of a school of grammar, and the publication of historical, religious, and literary texts such as the Compostelan History, or Codex Calixtinus".

  Among the works from Santiago's cathedral and two other important monuments that will be displayed are the bas-relief "Woman with Bunch of Grapes" as well as works of art from sites along the path of the pilgrimage such as Sainte-Foy, Conques, St. Sernin, Toulouse, and St. James of Altopascio, Tuscany.

  The exhibit, which will remain open until 1 August, has free entry and "constitutes the first exhibition undertaken by Santiago de Compostela on Gelmirez, with the objective of illustrating his importance in Galician history as well as in the construction of European Romanesque art".
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