WHILE studying at the University of Paris, the young friar from Italy became the target of jokes not only for his being so fat -- it was said that to accommodate him in the dining room table, a large portion of the table had to be cut out for his protruding belly to fit into. Moreover, even his Dominican brothers thought he was hopelessly simple-minded. So much so that they unfairly called the young Tomasso the “dumb ox Italiano.”
They should have known better. For a wise and kind-hearted teacher, Albert the Great, surprised the rest of the class when he prophesied, “Yes, you might now think and call him “dumb ox,” but one day, this ox will roar, and his voice will be heard all over the world.”
Even his fellow Dominicans made him the butt of their jokes. One day, a Dominican friar stuck his head outside a window, then shouted, “Fray Thomas, look, there is a flying cow!”
When the young Thomas innocently peered through the window, the other Dominican friars roared in mocking laughter.
But the young Dominican, looking at his fellow friars most intently, calmly and clearly addressed them, “My brothers, I would rather believe a cow to be flying in the sky than for a Dominican to lie.”
His religious brothers’ faces turned markedly red with shame.
Many years later when the books written by St. Thomas Aquinas, especially the Summa Theologica and Summa contra Gentiles, were read and studied by so many scholars all over the world, then people acknowledged him as one of the greatest philosopher-theologian our world has ever known. He, as St. Albert the Great had prophesied, became the “ox that mightily roared.”