Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Thursday 09 February |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Marianus Scotus of Regensburg
Aleteia logo
Spirituality
separateurCreated with Sketch.

Why is St. Thomas Aquinas called the “Angelic Doctor”?

Thomas Aquinas

Lawrence OP | Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Philip Kosloski - published on 01/28/22

This saintly nickname tells us a lot about Aquinas' holy life and gifted work.

Send us the names of your loved ones who are sick or suffering. The Aleteia prayer network of 550 monasteries will take them to prayer for the World Day of the Sick.

Click here to share your intentions

One of the most highly regarded saints of the Catholic Church is St. Thomas Aquinas, often referred to as the “Angelic Doctor.”

Why is he called a “doctor”?

First of all, in the Catholic Church, besides naming certain individuals as saints, recognizing their extraordinary practice of virtue, popes over the centuries have singled out specific saints as Doctors of the Church.

These men and women are seen as exemplary teachers in various theological or spiritual topics. The official title of doctor stems from the Latin root word docere, meaning “to teach.”

Aquinas wrote extensively during his lifetime, producing one of the most foundational texts for Catholic theology, called the Summa Theologiae. In it, he answers a variety of questions that were raised in his time, and his responses continue to be used today in defense of Catholic doctrine.

What about “angelic”?

It’s not entirely certain why St. Thomas became known as the “Angelic Doctor.” There are a variety of possibilities, including one explanation given by Pope Benedict XVI in a general audience in 2010.

He was also called the Doctor Angelicus [Angelic Doctor], perhaps because of his virtues and, in particular, the sublimity of his thought and the purity of his life.

The Catholic Encyclopedia offers a similar explanation.

Purity of mind and body contributes in no small degree to clearness of vision. By the gift of purity, miraculously granted at the time of the mystic girdling, God made Thomas’s life angelic; the perspicacity and depth of his intellect, Divine grace aiding, made him the “Angelic Doctor.”

This entry refers to a story from St. Thomas’ life, recounted in his canonization records.

Two angels came to him from heaven and bound a cord around his waist, saying, “On God’s behalf, we gird you with the girdle of chastity, a girdle which no attack will ever destroy …” The angels’ gift preserved Saint Thomas from sexual temptation and bestowed upon him an enduring purity that ennobled all his thoughts and actions.

St. Thomas also wrote extensively about angels, and his theology on angels is one of the most comprehensive in all of Church history.

For all these reasons, St. Thomas Aquinas is known as the “Angelic Doctor.”

Tags:
Saints
Support Aleteia!

Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Thanks to their partnership in our mission, we reach more than 20 million unique users per month!

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting and transformative Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Support Aleteia with a gift today!

jour1_V2.gif
Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Entrust your prayer intentions to our network of monasteries


Top 10
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.