Saint Thomas of Villanova Feast Day October 10

Prayer of Saint Thomas of VillanovaI will love you Lord in every wayand without setting limits to my love.You set no limitsto what you have done for me;You have not measured out your gifts.I will not measure out my love,I will love you, Lord, with a…

Prayer of Saint Thomas of Villanova

I will love you Lord in every way

and without setting limits to my love.

You set no limits

to what you have done for me;

You have not measured out your gifts.

I will not measure out my love,

I will love you, Lord, with all my strength,

with all my powers, as much as I am able.

Sermon on the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene

Today, the Augustinian Order celebrates the Feast of Saint Thomas of Villanova, patron of the eastern province, as well as of a number of Augustinian communities throughout the country, including Villanova University and Saint Thomas of Villanova Parish, both located in the town which also bears his name.

 Saint Thomas’ relevance for the contemporary Church is especially striking thanks to his simple lifestyle, leadership skill and attentiveness to the poor and marginalized. He demonstrates the power of reform and renewal from within, presenting a symbol of hope in the midst of a seemingly hopeless situation.

Known during his lifetime as the Father of the Poor, he is one of the great Spanish saints of the 16th Century. Thoroughly Augustinian in his spirituality, preaching, teaching, and ministry, he resembles Augustine particularly in his learning, pastoral approach and his inclination toward the contemplative life. Like Augustine, he was called to serve the Church as bishop, much against his will, but carried out this service with great fidelity and zeal, bringing about a significant renewal in his Archdiocese as much by his example as by his wise and effective decisions. In the midst of a society and a Church surrounded by wealth and privilege, Thomas lived always as a poor and humble servant of God and of his people.

Thomas Garcia Martinez was born in 1486 in Fuenllana, Spain, and was raised in Villanueva de los Infantes, with which town his name is forever linked. Following studies at the University of Alcalá and later at Salamanca, he joined the Augustinians and was professed on November 25, 1517. On December 24, 1518 he was ordained priest, and then taught theology in Salamanca. He was named prior at the friary there and later at others as well, and served also at various times as Prior Provincial. In 1544 Charles V nominated him to the See of Valencia, but he declined until his provincial ordered him to accept. He was consecrated at Valladolid where he was then prior. The See of Valencia was ranked as first class because of its size and resources.  However, it was not in good condition. For the whole previous century there had been no resident bishop. Thomas undertook a widespread reform, beginning with visitation within weeks of his arrival. He founded the first seminary, helped young women to find employment rather than risk falling into disrepute, and saved many orphans from poverty. Personally, however, he sought to live always as a simple friar, preferring to wear his religious habit and giving generously to the poor. By his preaching he made a great impression and drew many to religious life, including several future Augustinians. The sermons which Thomas left number more than 400 and have run some 19 editions. He died on September 8, 1555 and was buried in the Augustinian friary of Our Lady of Help in Valencia as he had desired. Later his remains were moved to both the cathedrals of Valencia and Salamanca. Thomas was beatified on October 7, 1618 by Paul V and canonized on November 1, 1658 by Alexander VII. Efforts on the part of the Augustinian Family and of various bishops’ conferences to have him declared a Doctor of the Church are presently underway.