Saint Thomas AquinasThomas was born in about 1225 and educated in the Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino from the age of five. After a period at Naples University, he became attracted to the Dominican Order, but his wish to enter it was opposed by his family, who imprisoned him and sent a prostitute to seduce him. According to the 'Golden Legend', he successfully resisted this temptation, and was visited by two angels who brought him a belt of chastity which he put on.
He preached and wrote, his most important work being the 'Summa Theologica'. He was one of the leading teachers of his day and one of the greatest philosophers of the Middle Ages. Much of his career was spent at Paris University. On his return to Naples, while he was writing the 'Summa', the crucifix before which he was praying is supposed to have spoken to him.
The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN