6 Facts about the Fatal Brain Injury of St Thomas Aquinas

On March 7 1274, the greatest Catholic mind died from brain trauma. Here’s a timeline of what happened brought you to by the New Saint Thomas Institute:

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  • Sometime in 1273: The sacristan Domenic of Caserta observes Thomas Aquinas to be levitating in prayer with tears before an icon of the crucified Christ. Christ said to Thomas, “You have written well of me, Thomas. What reward would you have for your labor?” Thomas responded, “Nothing but you, Lord.”
  • Dec 6 1273: While celebrating the Mass of Saint Nicholas, Thomas went into ecstasy. Thomas’ friend and secretary Reginald later asks him: “Master, will you not return to your work?” Thomas Aquinas replied: “I can write no more. All that I have written seems like straw.” Thomas no longer works on the Summa theologiae.
  • Pope Gregory X asks Saint Thomas Aquinas to reconcile the Greek Orthodox bishops at the Second Council of Lyon in France to be held on 1 May 1274.
  • Early 1274, Thomas strikes his head on a tree branch along the Appian way near Monte Cassino. It’s not clear whether this happened while he was riding a horse or whether the branch or log was already on the ground.
  • Thomas recovers and continues his journey to the port. His health fails again and he is taken to the Cistercian Abbey of Fossanova. While he was conscious, he gave a commentary on the Song of Songs, as had Saint Bernard.
  • March 7, 1274: His brain continued to swell. He received Last Rites and his last words were: “I receive Thee, ransom of my soul. For love of Thee have I studied and kept vigil, toiled, preached and taught….” and then he was received into Heaven by Jesus Christ.

From this timeline, you can perceive the deep mysticism of Thomas Aquinas. Many wrongly assume that Thomas was an aloof college professor or academician. Far from it. He was a mystic full in love with Christ and driven to preach in teach in the parish churches and in the universities.

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I’d like to share two FREE resources for you to help you fall more in love with Saint Thomas Aquinas:

  1. Here is a free book titled Thomas Aquinas in 50 Pages. It is currently the most popular introduction to Thomas Aquinas available on amazon.com. You can have it free by clicking here.Thomas Aquinas in 50 Pages
  2. Here’s a free podcast: “The Secret Life of Thomas Aquinas” in which I discuss the unknown mystical elements from the life of Thomas Aquinas. Click here to listen.
  3. Here is a free video called “7 Reasons to Love Saint Thomas Aquinas”. This video will help you see the various levels of the spirituality and theology of Saint Thomas Aquinas in only a few short minutes. Watch it here.
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If you’re a Member of the New Saint Thomas Institute, you can explore the dozens of video lessons on Saint Thomas Aquinas in our Philosophy and Thomistic Studies online curriculum by clicking here.

If you’d like to try taking online classes on Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, Mariology, Apologetics, Church History, and/or Medieval Theology, please explore the New Saint Thomas Institute: newsaintthomas.com.

Intro to Thomas Module

Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!

Dr. Taylor Marshall

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Video: The Milk of Mother Church is Not Tainted or Poisoned

I’m reluctant to share this because I’m generally skeptical about anything smacking of private revelations, but after going to confession yesterday, I intuited a spiritual reality and I thought I’d share it with you. It’s certainly not a mystical vision per se, but it is a consolation.

It helped remind me of my deep love for the Catholic Church, and the great comfort we have in the preservation of sanctifying grace and doctrine within the bosom of the Catholic Church. Reminding ourselves of the Church’s identity as “mother” can bring us profound consolation during times of “ecclesial frustration.”

Here’s a 3 minute video of me explaining the purity of Mother Church’s milk and how we can only find life and nourishment in the bosom of the Church:

(Click here to watch video on Youtube.)

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The Name of Jesus Adds up to 888 (against the 666)

Here’s a short 3 minute video I recorded answer a question about the number 8 as the eternal numeral in Natural Law, Old Law, and the New Law and how the Holy Name of Jesus adds up to 888 – which is contrary the Beasts name adding up to 666. Here’s the short video:

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Catholic Theology Video: St Justin Martyr and His Heretic Disciple Tatian

I recently fielded a question about rigorist Christians (even Catholics) who believe that Adam and Eve would have never had physical marital relations had it not been for original sin.

This belief goes back to the heretical Encratites. The Encratites were a rigorist Christian sect that condemned not only sexual relations within Christian marriage (that is, that said that even married people must abstain after baptism), but they also condemned the consumption of alcohol – even omitting wine in the Eucharistic liturgy.

This latter point is ironic since Jesus turned water into wine at a marriage.

Perhaps the most infamous Encratite was Tatian – the disciple of Saint Justin Martyr. This proves that even the greatest theologians and teachers can have disciples that become heretics!

So since today is the feast of Saint Justin Martyr, here is a free Catholic Church History lesson from the New Saint Thomas Institute:

Catholic Course on Saint Justin Martyr and Tatian the Heretic:

If you’d like to join thousands of other online students, and take online classes in Catholic history, theology, apologetics, philosophy, Church Councils, Christology, Mariology, etc. please sign up and begin one of our curricula at the New Saint Thomas Institute.

Is there literal physical fire in Purgatory? Video and Thomas Aquinas

The Eastern Orthodox often reject the Latin doctrine of Purgatory based on the Latin tradition of “physical fire” purifying souls in purgatory.

The Latin phrase used by Thomas Aquinas and others is “corporal fire.” For example:

I answer that, In Purgatory there will be a twofold pain; one will be the pain of loss, namely the delay of the divine vision, and the pain of sense, namely punishment by corporeal fire. (STh Supp. App I. q. 2, a. 5)

The Latin is ignis corporalis. The “corporeal fire” of Purgatory is one of the doctrines that the Greek Orthodox objected to during the Second Council of Lyons (1274). Saint Thomas Aquinas was discharged to defend the doctrine at this council, but he died on the way. Saint Bonaventure was sent in his stead (and Bonaventure died at the end of Council).

I very rarely disagree with Saint Thomas Aquinas, but I do disagree here – but I will offer a Benedict XVI suggestion that might provide a unique solution.

How can “corporeal fire” purify an immaterial non-corporeal soul in Purgatory? This is a metaphysical problem. You cold corporeal fire under an immaterial soul all day long and it would not touch the soul. And yet Thomas is insistent on the fire of Purgatory (and Gehenna) as corporeal.

Pope Benedict, in his Encyclical Spe Salvi, writes:

Some recent theologians are of the opinion that the fire which both burns and saves is Christ himself, the Judge and Savior. The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgment. Before his gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves (Pope Benedict, Spe Salvi 47).

This goes along with the teaching of Moses that “the Lord your God is a consuming fire” (Deut 4:24). If Christ Himself is the purifying fire, then here’s the twist: Christ is corporeal! He is resurrected. So a Christian might in fact say that the fire of purgatory is “corporeal” if in fact we are referencing the resurrected corpus Christi.

burning bush icon

Is the particular judgment when we stand face to face with the resurrected Christ the burning fire of love that hurts, burns, cleanses, and restores the soul alive with sanctifying grace but lacking full sanctification at death. I think so.

I think all of this can be held along with holding (as do I) that Purgatory is “located” not in Heaven with the Beatific Vision but in the Infernus or Sheol.

Here’s my video on Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Four Regions of Hell:

Question: Comments are open. Please share your thoughts. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

How to Make S.M.A.R.T. Unbreakable New Year’s Goals for God and Yourself

Did you know that 25% of people give up on their New Year’s Resolution within the first seven days of January? A majority will not see their resolutions past February 1!

God made humans to be goal-oriented. Our ultimate goal is Heaven, but there are sub-goals along the way. Today I’ll share how I attain goals using the “S.M.A.R.T.” (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, time-bound) system of goal making. When I learned this system, it literally changed my life. I will also share how making these kind of goals for the New Year can lead to a breakthrough in any category with which you struggle: spiritual, marital, familial, economic, health, etc.

How to Make S.M.A.R.T. Goals for the New Year

Please watch the video below as explain how you can make goals for the New Year and make this next year the most productive of your life:

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Question: What’s your goal this year? What could you change this New Year with a system of written-down goals? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Catholic Webinar: History and Theology of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Did you know that devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe goes back to a small statue in Spain that was once owned by the Church Father and Pope Saint Gregory the Great?

Please join us for this week’s Catholic Webinar:

6 Historical and Theological Facts about Our Lady of Guadalupe

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Here’s what you’ll learn:

  1. How the devotion to an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe began with Saint Luke.
  2. How the original image was acquired by St Gregory the Great.
  3. Christopher Columbus’ devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
  4. About the Apparition of Our Lady to St Juan Diego.
  5. How Our Lady of Guadalupe can help you in our secular society!
  6. How she can help you bring family and friends back to the Catholic Church:

The Webinar is free but you must register to claim your spot and have access to the Webinar. You can do so by clicking here:

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We hosted 980 live attendees in last week’s Webinar on Catholic Advent. We are hoping to have over 1,000 attendees in this week’s Guadalupe Webinar. Join us for the global Catholic seminar about Our Lady!

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Silence: Japanese Catholic Martyrs Film by Scorsese

Martin Scorsese has produced a film adaptation of the Japanese novel Silence by Shusaku Endo. It stars Andrew Garfield (Spiderman and Hacksaw Ridge), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren from The Force Awakens), Liam Neeson, Tadanobu Asano, and Ciarán Hinds:


It. Looks. Awesome.

The trailer (linked below) gave me chills, and hopefully Scorsese doesn’t make it into an anti-Catholic polemic. Check out the trailer to Silence:

Looks cool, right? Be assured that I’ll do a video reviewing this film as soon as it comes out.

Speaking of Catholic novels, my follow up “Saint George” novel sequel to Sword and Serpent comes out next week: The Tenth Region of the Night: Sword and Serpent Book II. Stay tuned for the book launch and how you can get a copy:



Taylor Marshall

10 Tips for Catholics Visiting Rome

I spent just over three weeks in Rome teaching Catholic seminarians through the Rome Experience, and here are 10 tips that to making the most out of your visit to Rome:

vatican gold image

1 You should visit the 4 Major Basilicas of Rome: St Peter’s (Vatican), St Paul’s outside the Walls, St Mary Major, and St John Lateran. These are the four grandest churches in Rome and each will take your breath away. My favorites are St Peter’s and St Mary Major.

2 The best part of Rome are the off-the-path churches. Saint Peter’s Basilica is amazing, but I find myself enjoying and communing with God in a special way in churches such as St Agnes in Agony off the Piazza Navona or at Sunday Mass in the St Maria Trastevere.

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Santa Maria in Trastevere – Off the beaten path, but worth a visit!

3 If you’re healthy, walk everywhere. Try not to use cabs or the metro. Walking a city is the best way to know a city. If you can’t walk, go with someone who knows Rome well.

4 Bus tour. Speaking of getting to know Rome, as cheesy as it sounds, I recommend getting on one of those tourist double decker buses and riding around the city at least once. It will provide you with a global “view” of the city.

Eternal City Rome Look Inside5 Read a good book on Christian Rome before you arrive. I recommend my book The Eternal City: Rome and the Origins of Catholicism for Catholic pilgrims looking for Catholic insights into the history and theology of Rome.

6 Eat meals at scenic Italian spots. Will food cost more on the piazza of the Pantheon or on Piazza Navona? Of course! But it’s worth it. Watch people. Listen to the musicians. Watch performers. One evening, I was eating alone on the Piazza Navona and two married British couples on an anniversary trip to Rome invited me to their table and even bought me champagne. We had a great time talking about Latin. It was a fun and magical evening that I’ll never forget – and it would have never happened if I had dinner at a cheap kabob shop off the Tiber.

7 Pasta is great, but it’s not the end-all be-all in Rome. Italian food isn’t all pasta. I rarely consume pasta in Rome. I spend my meals loving the cured pork dishes, the veal, the cheese, and the vegetables. If you are into pasta, some of the best pastas are those that are lightly topped with sauces or fine oils. Quality over quantity.

8 Everyone raves about Roman gelato. But after living there for almost a month, I learned that there is gelato…and then there’s real gelato.


Just as wine comes in a variety of value, even so gelato. Through priests I met, I was introduced to interesting flavors that I would have never tried. There are an array of nut flavors that I highly recommend. Pistachio, of course, but also try Bacio (chocolate hazlenut – like Nutello!!!), Mandorla (almond), and Castagna (chessnut). And of course blend with chocolates and dark chocolate and berry flavors. I found that gelato sold at tourist centers and from moveable carts tended to be the worst in the city.

9 Prayer at holy sites. Rome is a holy city of martyrs, relics, saints, tradition, and glory. But you can get so caught up in seeing everything that you don’t talk to God. Don’t just gawk at Michelangelo’s Pieta and take photos for Instagram. No, kneel down in front of it and pray. Don’t rush from church to church. Find the tabernacle and talk to Jesus about your pilgrimage.

Sistine Chapel Vatican Museum Rome Italy

Sistine Chapel Vatican Museum Rome Italy. Leave that iPhone in your pocket. Be still and pray.

10 Live in the moment and feel Rome. Here are some examples from my own experience: Watch an Italian cat curl up under an ancient statue. Smile at a newly wed couple cuddling near a fountain. Sit in an ancient Roman church and watch a wedding of two people I’ve never met. Randomly meet seminarians on the street and invite them to lunch. Pass the peace in Italian at a local Mass.

There’s much more that I could say, but these 10 are the big ones with 1, 2, 9, and 10 as the most important.


Divine Mercy 101: Catholic Webinar Tonight!

Tonight will be the Catholic Webinar on Divine Mercy 101 with Dr. Taylor Marshall:

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    • Did Saint Faustina claim that everyone gets a chance of salvation after death?
    • Why was Divine Mercy allegedly condemned in the 60s and 70s?
    • What exactly is the message and what is Divine Mercy Sunday?
    • What was the role of Saint John Paul II in Divine Mercy?
    • Free for all Catholic Theology Q&A Session at the end of our webinar
    • EVERYONE THAT ATTENDS WILL RECEIVE a Catholic Bible Cheat Sheet as a pdf download

Sign up by clicking here.

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I hope you learn a ton with us tonight about the history and theology of Divine Mercy.

Taylor Marshall