Saint Thomas’s Skull Is on the Move

Reliquary of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Toulouse, France

Two years ago, in my first Happy Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas post, I explained that January 28 was chosen as the date to commemorate his joining the Blessed in Heaven, not because it was the date of his entrance into that blessed state (i.e., the date of his death, March 7 (though, until 1969 the latter date was his feast day)), but because it was the date the relics of his body were returned to the Dominican convent in Toulouse from the Cistercian Abbey of Fossanova. I also noted that Saint Thomas’s relics suffered some extreme vagaries of place and condition until their (more or less) final resting place in France, but that what his remains underwent was not unusual for the time and place in which he lived and died.

Thom’s thumb in Milan

Certainly Thomas Aquinas is not the most post mortem widely travelled or widely distributed saint of the middle ages, but rather, his case seems oddly typical of medieval interest in relics. Indeed, Marika Räsänen has recently published a study of the journeys and vicissitudes of St. Thomas’s remains as emblematic of the importance relics had in the height of the medieval period: Thomas Aquinas’s Relics as Focus for Conflict and Cult in the Late Middle Ages: The Restless Corpse.

While such intense interest in the relics of Saint Thomas seems to us perhaps somewhat odd and even macabre, even to the point of missing the true significance of his life and work, Saint Thomas himself acknowledges that such devotion is right and fitting as it is an extension of the honor and veneration that ought to be given to the Body of Jesus Christ.

Well, the National Catholic Register reports that Saint Thomas’s relics, or at least his skull, is on the move again:

The skull of St. Thomas Aquinas has arrived at the Dominican Convent of Toulouse, France, and placed in a new reliquary as the order celebrates the 700th anniversary of the saint’s canonization in the Catholic Church….

The reliquary will now embark on a journey across France and abroad. 

For information about the display and procession of Saint Thomas’s skull at various locations around France, and presumably “abroad,” visit the website for the Jubilees of Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Published by Joe Magee

I earned my PhD in 1999 and published my dissertation in 2003. I invented the Variably Expanding Chain Transmission (VECTr) which was patented in 2019 (US 10,167,055).

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