St. Thomas of Villanova: Augustinian, Educator and Carer of the Poor


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St. Thomas of Villanova Church on the campus of Villanova University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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St. Thomas of Villanova:

Charity is not just giving, rather removing the need of those who receive charity and liberating them from it when possible.

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St. Thomas of Villanova, an Archbishop, educator and carer of the poor. The patron saint of Villanova University, shown in the plaza in front of St. Thomas of Villanova Monastary. He lived from 1488-1555. His feast day is September 22nd.

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Details depicts Thomas dressed as a bishop with crozier and mitre, giving alms to poor children.

If you want God to hear your prayers, hear the voice of the poor. If you wish God to anticipate your wants, provide those of the needy without waiting for them to ask you. Especially anticipate the needs of those who are ashamed to beg. To make them ask for alms is to make them buy it.”   – St. Thomas of Villanova

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St. Thomas attended Arts and Theology at the University of Alcala de Henares and eventually became a university professor. He decided to leave the university setting and entered an Augustinian monastery.


Later in life St. Thomas received mystical encounters with God, having ecstatic visions during Mass. He sucumbed a heart condition in 1555 at the end of Mass. He is said to have died on the floor rather than in his bed, which he insisted on offering to a poor man who had come to his house.

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He was a great preacher and Emperor Charles V, upon hearing him preach, exclaimed, “This monsignor can move even the stones!”


He also had a great devotion to the Virgin Mary, whose heart he compared to the burning bush that is never consumed. He was canonized by Pope Alexander VII on November 1, 1658.

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Villanova University’s crest reflects the school’s Catholic roots and symbolically commemorates the seal of St. Augustine, whose order founded Villanova in 1842.

Seven key elements are represented:

1. Motto: Villanova’s motto, “Veritas (truth), Unitas (unity), Caritas (charity)” is highlighted on the crest, with each term enclosed in a rectangular box.

2. Book: A large book in the center of the crest represents St. Augustine’s commitment to learning as well as his study of Scripture when making his famous conversion to Christianity.

3. Cincture: On top of the book, a cincture or cord with tassels depicts part of the clothing worn by friars in the Order of St. Augustine.

4. Flaming Heart: St. Augustine’s quest to know God meant that he needed to pursue his goal with all his heart. The flaming heart also characterizes Augustine’s commitment to love one’s neighbor.

5. Crosier: The crosier, or staff, on the Villanova crest marks St. Augustine’s role in the church as the Bishop of Hippo.

6. Crosses and Laurel Wreath: Crosses, a symbol of Christ’s death and resurrection, show the importance of St. Augustine’s conversion. The laurel wreath marks his victory through learning and knowledge.


7. Fide of the University: On the official university seal, the outer rim states in Latin “Villanova University in the State of Pennsylvania.”


The Bible tells us that the poor, the downtrodden, the oppressed, the needy, and the hungry and thirsty were the Lord’s favorites.Why, then, should they not be our favorites as well?” – St. Thomas of Villanova


St. Augustine statue with his own heart set on fire with the love for Christ. The friars of his religious order founded Villanova University, where they administer today.
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Another Augustinian, St. Rita of Cascia, shown here at one of the courtyards in the St. Augustine Center for Liberal Arts at Villanova University.


This door is always open as St. Thomas of Villanova would want it.

2 thoughts on “St. Thomas of Villanova: Augustinian, Educator and Carer of the Poor”

  1. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  2. You are most welcome and thanks for visiting the site.

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