Quid sit Deus? — the question of young Aquinas

Quid sit Deus? -- the question of young Aquinas
Baptismal church of , Aquino

Today I visited Aquino and Roccasecca, the birth place of St Thomas . It is always inspiring to visit the birthplace of a great saint and to hear stories about his life. I will post a few pictures and some texts from a little book I was reading on the bus by Ralph McInerny, Aquinas (Polity Press, Cambridge UK, 2004). Here is McInerny:

Roccasecca

“There is still a town called Roccasecca, on the west side of the autostrada along which the latter-day countrymen of Thomas hurtle between Naples and Rome, a journey of hours now rather than days. (In Thomas’ time this would be the Via Latina, the coastal roads being the Via Appia.) On the east side of the autostrada, visible to traffic for miles, is the commanding white pile of Montecassino, the great Benedictine Abbey, where Thomas received his early schooling. . . . If you went in the other direction on the autostrada, toward Roccasecca, you would come upon a modern town, the entrance to which is flanked by advertisements of car dealers, appliances and the like. Nothing looks very old. It isn’t. If you look to the north you will see a hill town, also called Roccasecca. It has been around a good while and you may think you have found Thomas’s home town. Not quite. The family castle is further up the hill from the older town; we are only halfway to it. It is a steep and rocky climb. . . . AT the very top are the ruins of castle in which Thomas Aquinas was born and which he lived his first five years of his life. Half walls, broken archways, bushes and bramble. But the view! You can look out over the valley, and on a clear day perhaps Montecassino would be visible in the distance. Nothing brings home our littleness like the immensity of mountains. One of the stories told about the Thomas is that as a young child he asked what God is [quid sit Deus?]. You can imagine the question forming as he looked out at the magnificent scenery.” (pp 3-4)

A view of the valley part way up to the castle

Almost to the Aquinas family castle

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