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10 Things to Remember about St. Thomas of Villanova


October 10 is the feast of St. Thomas of Villanova. Here are ten things to remember about this man, who is a gift of the Church and to the Order of Saint Augustine.

  1. St. Thomas of Villanova (1486-1555) was known for his dedication to promoting studies and missions within the Order of Saint Augustine and his compassion and care for the poor.
  2. He was born as Thomas García Martínez in 1486 in Fuenllana, Ciudad Real, Spain, and spent his early years in Villanova de los Infantes.
  3. Thomas displayed remarkable academic talent and began his studies at the University of Alcalá at the age of 15. He quickly earned a degree in Theology and was invited to join the university’s faculty.
  4. Despite the opportunity for an academic career, Thomas chose to enter the Order of Saint Augustine.
  5. He professed his vows as an Augustinian in 1517 and was ordained as a priest in 1518. His leadership abilities became evident, leading to his roles as Prior (local superior) and later as Provincial (regional superior) within the Augustinian Order. He encouraged a stronger adherence to Augustinian principles and supported missionary efforts in the New World.
  6. Thomas adopted a simple and spiritually rich life, generously giving away his inherited wealth.
  7. He was initially reluctant to become Bishop of Granada when asked but eventually accepted under his vow of obedience. Later, he became Archbishop of Valencia in 1545, despite his initial reluctance.
  8. Upon arriving in Valencia, Thomas identified the spiritual needs of the archdiocese by personally visiting every parish. He initiated programs that used funds from the wealthy to assist the poor.
  9. Thomas established the Presentation Seminary in 1550 to cultivate a well-formed clergy and founded schools to provide quality education for the youth. He also converted his own home into a place where the poor and homeless could find food and shelter, earning him the titles “Beggar Bishop” and “Father of the Poor.”
  10. As his health declined in 1551, Thomas gave away all of his remaining possessions. He passed away on September 8, 1555, in Valencia, and his remains are preserved at the Cathedral there.
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