St. Thomas Aquinas was born around AD 1225, and was made to join the Benedictine friars of Monte Casino when he was just five years old. In 1244, Thomas decided that he was more attracted to the life of the Dominican monks, and joined the order, much to the dismay of his family. The Dominicans in Thomas' day were looked down upon as beggars, and his family tried many different times to break Thomas of his attraction to the Dominican lifestyle. But Thomas' resolve was unswerving.
Thomas went next to Cologne to study theology with St. Albert the Great, who first gave him the nickname "dumb ox." This nickname, though it referred more to his great size and silent ways, could not have been further from the truth concerning Thomas' intellect. His widely read unfinished work, the Summa Theologica, spans five volumes, and exhaustively describes his own faith and understanding of Christian doctrine. While on his way to the Second Council of Lyons, in 1274, St. Thomas Aquinas became ill and died at a Cistercian monastery.