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North East Study Day: Thomas Aquinas, the Eucharist and Salvation

On Saturday 25th June, the North East group held a study day in Durham, and invited people from across the Diocese to join us, as part of the Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle’s Year of the Eucharist.

During the morning session, Andy Doyle spoke about ‘The Institution of Corpus Christi – The Dominican Connections’. The story started with Juliana of Liege, a Norbertine nun, who worked for the introduction of the feast, wrote the first liturgy, and gained the help and support of her bishop (later Cardinal) Hugh de St Cher OP. In 1264 Urban IV established the Feast of Corpus Christi, and St. Thomas Aquinas was commissioned to write a new Office and Mass for the Feast, and is widely believed to have at least partly drafted the papal bull Transiturus de hoc mundo. St. Thomas was a man of great bodily, spiritual and intellectual integrity, a poet and a man of prayer.

Our keynote speaker was Dr Rik van Nieuwenhove of Durham University, who spoke on ‘St. Thomas Aquinas on the Eucharist and Charity’. He drew on the Summa Theologica iii, q73 and the Commentary on John to encourage us to reflect on St. Thomas’ thinking on the threefold significance of the Eucharist:

  • Sacrifice (the past)
  • Communion (the present)
  • Viaticum (the future)

Dr. Rik’s presentation was followed by some lively questions and conversations leading the participants deeper into the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas.

During the day we also spent time before the Blessed Sacrament, with hymns and readings reflecting St. Thomas’ poetry and prayers, and the service sheet is available here.