{    Cnytr   }

{Friday, July 15, 2005  }

.:{St. Thomas Aquinas triumphs over heresy}:.



Zounds, foiled again!

It was a lovely day at job #2, as it always is because I love job #2. I was happily doing my duties at said job when suddenly appeared to me a falling-apart manuscript, printed in Rome in 1922 titled In honorem Divi Thomae Aquinatis; sexto saeculo exeunte a sanctorum caelitum honoribus ipsi decretis documenta pontificia miris artis operibus illustrata.

And illustrata it was.

Sandwiched between the various papal documents on our beloved St. Thomas Aquinas (i.e. the ones proclaiming him doctor of the church, patron of scholars, etc) were the most lovely illustrations. For this reason I borrowed it at once and scanned one or two of them which I could not find online. And I found a most wonderful trend amongst them.

Of course one of the images was Gozzoli's Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas which hangs in the Louvre which I was fortunate enough to see and of which I have a closer image that I took myself. You'll note the Evangelists above him appear to be taking notes! ;) Christ himself, of course, hovers above with his bene scripsasti de me, Thomma -- "You have written well of me, Thomas". This is of course what Christ on the cross said to St. Thomas Aquinas in his vision. These words are often shown in Thomistic iconography of a certain sort. Furthermore, Plato stands at Thomas' left and Aristotle at his right. Aquinas was of course not only a brilliant theologian but an excellent philosopher, although he never taught philosophy at the University of Paris. Many of the manuscripts of Plato and especially Aristotle are acceptable (and not hidden away) because of Aquinas' purgation of the texts of Aristotle by the errors of Averroes. He often quotes Averroes in the wrong and, what's more, Averroes is in these pictures shown wonderfully splayed at Thomas' feet.

Another famous image of St. Thomas Aquinas and the heretic pagan philosophers is found in my favorite church, S. Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome. The sidechapel of Fra Lippi has this frescoe -- detail here. Averroes is again at Aquinas' feet, holding a scroll reading sapientia vicit malitiam ("wisdom conquers malice"); Aquinas sits surrounded by the virtues, pointing to Averroes and holding a book which reads sapientiam sapientum perdam ("I shall destroy the 'wisdom' of the wise" -- 1 Cor 1:19).

Traini's Triumph of St. Thomas has many of the same things that Gozzoli imitates. But Gozzoli doesn't emphasize (though this image doesn't show it) the rays of Thomas' wisdom touching every person (or book, in Averroes' case) in the painting.

The famous Triumph of St. Thomas in S. Maria Novella in Florence has seated below Thomas the sacred philosophers (on Thomas' right -- explanations here) and the secular (corresponding page). Again at his feet is the dejected-looking Averroes.

Two images by Massanensi(?) I was unable to find online. I am certain they are more lovely in color, but this is the best I can do.
In this image, it's God the Father with the "bene scripsisti"; Averroes seems to say "...and I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those meddling kids."
Here Aquinas is between Peter and Paul, and the altar on which he is enthroned has famous Dominicans on it (pick one). Note St. Catherine of Siena receiveing the stigmata. The centerpiece is of St. Thomas' famous vision of the crucifix speaking to him. And the usual Averroes chilling.

But what really prompted this post was the same author who did this image. St. Thomas isn't even in this one, but it is still glorious -- The Doctrine of St. Thomas Confounds the Heretics.

The central angel raises aloft with verital majesty the "Summa Contra Gentiles" and the heretics stumble; an angel to the right holds the "Commentary on Sacred Scripture" and the pagans are amazed (one seems to slap his forehead); the third angel points to the "Summa Theologica" and the pagans are at once shocked and intrigued. Books and scrolls and pens lie abandoned, for the great Angelic Doctor has confounded them all in his wisdom. In the background, the emblems of antiquated paganism (the statue, the column) are broken, the temple has come down and the wisdom of My Lord Thomas has triumphed.

Nunc et in saecula. Amen, amen!

(Isn't it all wonderful?)
posted by Lauren, 10:22 PM

4 Comments:

Not even fair! Awsome!!!
commented by Blogger fj, 3:12 PM  
Sounds marvellous! What's the job? (Pedantry strikes again: 'manuscript... printed...'??!)
commented by Blogger Boeciana, 11:44 AM  
Boeciana --

I use the terms "manuscript" and "codex" and "book" fairly interchangeably.
commented by Blogger Lauren, 10:31 PM  
Fair dos when the book/codex is MS, but a printed book/codex just, well, isn't.

Incidentally, aren't codices great information techonology? Now we're in the happy days of the internet, I can't get over how much of an advance they are upon scrolls. Readable on the Tube without taking someone's eye out; interactive via spacious margins for notes; and with the development of page numbers, running headers and indexes, the ultimate in user friendly. And they don't hurt your eyes So clever. Stuff on electronic gadgets just isn't going to beat that. And it sounds like you're getting paid to do stuff with them. Marvellous!
commented by Blogger Boeciana, 7:32 AM  

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