Thomas of Villanova vs. Thomas Aquinas

Our wild week of kitschy saintly action comes to a conclusion today. One final spot in the Faithful Four remains up for grabs and, while we won't know for 24 hours who has nabbed the last spot, we do know this: his name will be Thomas. Today, Thomas of Villanova faces Thomas Aquinas. To get here, Thomas of Villanova defeated Aloysius Gonzaga and Hilary of Poitiers, while Thomas Aquinas dispatched Jerome (barely!) and Oscar.

Yesterday, Madeleine Sophie Barat easily slid past Origen 72% to 28% to join Teresa of Avila and José Hernández in the Faithful Four.

Enjoy the weekend of palms and we'll see you first thing Monday morning as Teresa of Avila faces Madeleine Barat. Vote now!

Thomas of Villanova

St. Thomas of Villanova was known for his many gifts offered in love that changed people’s lives. From his deep generosity to his preaching, he gave the church and the world an example of how church leadership can be gracious, generous, and aware of the needs of the world.

Thomas embodied humility. For him, it guided his thoughts, words, and deeds and was the soft place to land when he began to feel the temptation of glory and laud for himself. You can remind yourself of the virtue of humility by tossing this pillow on your bed, and each morning and each night, remember that it’s not all about you, but instead is all about God.

An early legend of Thomas is that as a youngster, he would wander about his village and give food, alms, and even his own clothing to those in need. While we advocate for adhering to local clothing guidelines, we do hope you enjoy your very own dancing baby, wearing a diaper and celebrating Jesus’ love by breaking into dance.

Thomas’s first call was not as a monastic and priest, but as a professor. He was a learned, popular, and beloved professor…but he was also known to be quite absent minded. Recall the absent-minded but lovable professors and teachers in your life by sitting down with a bowl of popcorn and this Disney classic.

Thomas rarely spent any money on himself. Contemporaries noted that he reused and recycled almost everything, even mending his original monastic robes throughout his life. In the spirit of St. Thomas, take this kit and use random bits of paper you were going to toss anyway, some scissors, and glue, and create a beautiful artwork of one of the many churches named in honor of St. Thomas of Villanova.

Thomas was known for his preaching. He moved kings to tears and preached the Gospel with verve and passion. You, too, can have your very own pulpit for a mere $23,000 to practice preaching. For additional fun, the pulpit comes with a set of St. Thomas’ sermons to get you started.

Of all the legacies of St. Thomas, perhaps his most well-known is the university that bears his name. Villanova was founded in the Augustinian legacy of St. Thomas, focusing on wisdom, love, and justice. From its founding, Villanova has followed St. Thomas’ example of living in a community dedicated to open discussion, a commitment to ethical values, and a dedication to social justice and human rights.

But let’s admit that the reason most of us know about Villanova is because of basketball. So to end this article, let’s all enjoy of image of Our Lord playing a pick-up game of hoops and give thanks for the run Villanova had in the NCAA tournament.

Laurie Brock


Thomas Aquinas

You might think that Thomas Aquinas, founder of Western philosophy, would be devoid of kitsch, being so renowned and respected.

You would be wrong.

Aside from the obvious (schools, colleges, books, ontology, philosophy, etc) Thomas also has a wonderful panoply of goodies for your perusal.

First off, do you wish to delight/horrify your Tridentine friends over coffee? I give you Thomas’ Tantum Ergo on a coffee mug!  (Helpfully printed with a monstrance). Because sometimes you need that caffeine jolt whilst pondering the mysteries of transubstantiation.

Or, do you want to convey to your collegiate friends that you submit to—not Andre the Giant, but only thomistic inquiry?  Hang an AQUINAS poster, in the style of the Shepherd Fairey OBEY poster.

Finally, does your child wander about aimlessly, looking for just the right friend?  Someone cuddly, yet with a pedantic air? BEHOLD: An Aquinas-shaped pillow!  (I pause here to note that there are a truly amazing number of Thomas Aquinas-shaped pillows available. Your humble blogger dares not contemplate the meaning of this).

Best yet, if your child does form a true friendship with Pillow-Thomas, you can buy a matching t-shirt for your kid!  They can be twins in medieval theology, and twins in excellent fashion!  (Probably also twins in therapy, because this is going to get some comments at school.)

Megan Castellan

This poll is no longer accepting votes

5982 votes


* indicates required

Recent Posts



64 comments on “Thomas of Villanova vs. Thomas Aquinas”

  1. Excellent kitsch, fantastic bloggers both! Kudos! I voted for Villanova because I assume Aquinas will take this round. We shall see...

  2. Wouldn't it be wonderful if Thomas of Villanova ended up competing with Madeleine-Sophie for the Golden Halo? Both exemplify the virtues of humility and simplicity, welcome inspirations for this Easter season and many more. I again voted for heart in choosing Thomas of Villanova. Excellent write-up for him. Thanks to those that profile all the saints.

    1. Both Thomas of Villanova and Madeleine Sophie Barat have inspired throw pillows with quotes about humility. Interesting.

  3. Villanova’s write-up today is rather compelling — not surprising that he’s in the lead ATM — but I believe Aquinas is more deserving.

  4. I may have nightmares about the dancing baby... but in the spirit of the round my vote goes to Thomas Villanova whose kitschy collection just edges out Aquinas.

  5. Since Deacon Stephen was defeated long ago, I am focusing my votes from the Elate Eight forward on those who best exemplify a life of service to those in need. Villanova wins my vote! And his kitsch is wonderful, too.

  6. Laughed out loud at both today! The basketball Jesus mug nearly got me, but the twin pillow and t-shirt did the trick. Brilliantly blogged, both!!

  7. Oh my. I do not know which Thomas to choose! I tell my students that we are at a university because Aquinas gave us the right (and obligation) to think. And as a professor, does it get better than "Finally, does your child wander about aimlessly, looking for just the right friend? Someone cuddly, yet with a pedantic air? BEHOLD: An Aquinas-shaped pillow!?" I need one of those in my office for sure. But wait! There's more! How can I, an absent-minded professor not choose Thomas of Villanova the Absent-Minded Professor? Ack! Coin-flip day for more for sure.

  8. I have to admit, Thomas Aquinas has Thomas of Villanova crushed when it comes to kitsch. Laurie struggled to make connections as best she could, but beyond the pillow there was nothing even close to the man himself. You would think Villanova would have a coffee cup or something with Thomas playing basketball, but apparently not.
    Still, when it comes voting, two things are swaying my vote to Villanova: first he's on my bracket, and is about all I have to hold on to there, and second, while Aquinas obviously had more of an impact on the Church as a whole, Villanova was, to my mind, the more admirable in his personal life. This year, I think I am leaning more to the people I would have been drawn to if I actually knew them. Today that means Villy or Acquiny.

  9. Excellent job on finding saintly "kitsch", celebrity bloggers. The mug of Jesus playing basketball is priceless!

  10. It was rather an even call for me — excellent and imaginative kitsch all around — but as I prefer the Augustinian Order to the Dominican Order, no offense to anyone intended, I went with Thomas of Villanova.

  11. I’m surprised Thomas of Villanova is doing so well already! I thought Thomas Aquinas would be doing better since he is so well known. We’ll see what happens-Lent Madness keeps me on the edge of my seat yet again!

  12. Although the Aquinas kitsch and its presentation are truly inspiring, Villanova's is the more inspiring story to me overall. But great job of kitsch mining for these two bloggers! So fun!

  13. Laurie Brock's reading on St. Thomas of Villanova was just delightful. And wouldn't we all benefit if our church leaders were "gracious, generous and aware of the needs of the world." I voted for Villanova to win it all in the Basketball championship, and I vote for Thomas of Villanova and want to know more about this absent-minded professor and loving priest.

  14. Lent Madness is a fun way to continue learning about good people in the world and in history, something I enjoyed in childhood. So I find it a wonderful lenten meditation.
    But I miss the limerick that was the first comment every day. What has happened to Mr. Cabot. I am praying that he is well.

    1. He is doing just fine, he just doesn’t write limericks once his bracket is broken. I will let him know he’s missed.

  15. While I tend to be more of an Aquinas person because I love philosophy and will practice it at the mention of any subject I care about, the spirit of Thomas of Villanova is more in line with the Jesus movement.

    1. This is a very convincing reason to celebrate Villanova’s apparent win over Aquinas. Thank you for that!

  16. I love that Thomas of Villanova recycled everything possible! A person of my own heart! ❤️

  17. Some 15 years ago I was watching the (American) TV drama House, MD and laughed out loud (way too hard) when the arrogant, cynical (and atheist) Dr. House said while discussing a patient, "Loss of free will. I like it. Maybe we can get Thomas Aquinas in for a consult."

    I was just a year out of seminary and that the character House would bring up Aquinas of all people was hilarious to me.

    And speaking of seminary... while there I made a DIY kitsch for my Medieval and Reformation Theology professor when I designed this and put it on a t-shirt for him (anonymously at the time) based on an "the original CSI" comment he'd made in class:

    (And, yes, I'd shared that link/photo in the original round as well. Can't help it. It makes me laugh. And fondly recall a favorite prof.)

    1. How about a cartoon with someone asking a professor, "And what would the Unmoved Mover say about this subject?" And the answer, "Nothing. He's unmoved."

  18. Well, the kitsch edge certainly belongs to Villanova today. A baby dancing to Hooked on a Feeling and a $23,000 ornate as could be pulpit were compelling - although they had zero connection to the saint. No matter! It’s all madness.

  19. This was one of the toughest choices of all for me. I attended a preaching workshop at Villanova University a few years ago. He is possibly the more lovable of the two candidates.
    Nevertheless, St. TA, as I've been abbreviating his name in my class notes for the past several years, gets my vote for two reasons. First, he did, probably more than any other theologian, demonstrate the connection between faith and reason. We Anglicans, including but not limited to Episcopalians, like reason because our three channels of God's revelation of God's self are Scripture, tradition, and reason. Second, poor Thomas and his Summa probably get more complaints than any other theologian. He meant well, and he certainly didn't intend to make the study of theology as challenging as he did for many of us, so I believe that we should cut him a large quantity of slack.
    All honor to both. My younger son's name is also Thomas.

    1. For clarity, my son was not named after either of the Thomases featured today. He is the namesake of his great great uncle, who gave his great grandmother the course in bookkeeping that emabled her to support her family during the Great Depression. There are many kinds of learning, and most have beneficial results. May light perpetual shine upon him.

  20. I shall go with Villanova today: his care and concern for the poor, absent-minded-professor-ness (just like me!), the town and school just down the road…and Aquinas bears a little guilt for the idea that Creation proves God, that has been turned into our personal headache, “intelligent design”. Indeed Creation glorifies God, but if God could be proved, Jesus need not be sacrificed.

  21. Again, action over words! Villanova it is. Maybe because the humility bit reminded me of the story of Dom Helder Camara of Brazil asking Mother Teresa how she stays humble with the adoration of the crowds. She said that when she hears the praise of the crowd she thinks of herself as the donkey on which the Lord is riding. (I'll think of that this Sunday)

    1. What a great story! I'll think of it during our Palm Sunday procession this coming Sunday. Thanks be to God for Mother Theresa; may light perpetual shine upon her.

  22. I guess I must vote for Thomas Aquinas, because basketball is not what this set of brackets, this faith, and the week ahead of us are about. It's about this:

    Now, my tongue, the mystery telling
    of the glorious body sing,
    and the blood, all price excelling,
    which the Gentiles' Lord and King,
    in a Virgin's womb once dwelling,
    shed for this world's ransoming.

    Given for us, and condescending
    to be born for us below,
    he, with us in converse blending,
    dwelt the seed of truth to sow,
    till he closed with wondrous ending
    his most patient life of woe.

    That last night, at supper lying,
    'mid the Twelve, his chosen band,
    Jesus, with the law complying,
    keeps the feast its rites demand;
    then, more precious food supplying,
    gives himself with his own hand.

    Word-made-flesh, true bread he maketh
    by his word his flesh to be,
    wine his blood; which whoso taketh
    must from carnal thoughts be free:
    faith alone, though sight forsaketh,
    shows true hearts the mystery.

    Therefore we, before him bending,
    this great sacrament revere:
    types and shadows have their ending,
    for the newer rite is here;
    faith, our outward sense befriending,
    makes our inward vision clear.

    Glory let us give and blessing
    to the Father and the Son,
    honour, might, and praise addressing,
    while eternal ages run;
    ever too his love confessing,
    who, from both, with both is One. Amen.

    And that, Charlie Brown, is what it's all about.

  23. WELL DONE, bloggers! The winner of this round IS . . . Laurie and Megan! I must have that pulpit! I voted for Thomas Aquinas, who seems to be losing, because [inserts three-part discourse proving the logic of the decision, then lapses into silence].