Saint Thomas of Villanova

[Saint Thomas of Villanova]
Also known as

  • Thomas of Villanueva
  • Father of the Poor
  • Model of Bishops
  • Thomas the Almsgiver
  • Tomas of Villanova

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Son of Aloazo Tomas Garcia, a miller, and Lucia Martinez. He grew up in Villanova, Spain, and was educated at the University of Alcala. Professor of arts, logic and philosophy at the university from 1514. Joined the Augustinian friars at Salamanca, Spain in 1516. Ordained in 1518, celebrating his first Mass on Christmas Day that year. Suffered from absentmindedness and poor memory. Preacher. Prior. Provincial of the friars. Sent the first Augustinians to the New World. Nominated by the emperor to the archbishopric of Granada, Spain; he refused the first time, but agreed the second time it was offered, after being ordered to do so by the Pope; he took over on 1 January 1545.

His cathedral gave Thomas money to furnish his house; he donated it to a hospital, saying, “What does a poor friar like myself want with furniture?” Every day he wore the same habit he had received as a novitiate, mending it himself. The canons and domestics were ashamed of him, but could not change him. Several hundred poor came to Thomas’ door each morning, and were given meals, wine and money. Criticized for being exploited, he replied, “If there are people who refuse to work, that is for the authorities to deal with. My duty is to assist and relieve those who come to my door.” He took in orphans, and paid his servants for every deserted child they brought to him. He encouraged the wealthy to imitate his example. Criticized for being gentle with sinners, he said, “Let them ask if Augustine or John Chrysostom used anathemas and excommunication to stop drunkenness and blasphemy.”

As he lay dying, Thomas commanded that all his money be distributed to the poor. Mass was said in his presence, and after Communion he breathed his last, reciting: “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.” Left a number of theological writings.

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MLA Citation

  • “Saint Thomas of Villanova“. Saints.SQPN.com. 22 September 2013. Web. 31 July 2014. <>