Italy – International Saint Thomas Aquinas Award goes to Fr Mauro Mantovani, SDB

12 March 2024

(ANS – Aquino) – On Saturday, 9 March, in an evocative ceremony in the church of Santa Maria della Libera in Aquino, Salesian Fr Mauro Mantovani, Prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library, was awarded the Saint Thomas Aquinas International Prize, awarded by the Circolo San Tommaso Aquino.

The ceremony, moderated by François Vayne, Director of Communication of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, opened with greetings from the President of the Group, journalist Andrea Gagliarducci, the Bishop of Sora-Cassino-Aquino-Pontecorvo, Bishop Gerardo Antonazzo, and the Mayor of Aquino, Fausto Tomassi. Fr Wojcieh Giertych, OP, Theologian of the Pontifical Household, then delivered a laudatio which was followed by the announcement of the winners.

Together with Fr Mantovani, the Circolo gave an award to Nicola Milanesi, a doctoral student in Philosophy at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris, the winner of the "Veritas et Amor" competition held by the same group. Milanesi was awarded for his thesis "The notion of actus essendi in twentieth-century neo-thomism" – a topic in the metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas – defended in the Academic Year 2021/22 at the Catholic University of Milan.

Fr Mantovani spoke following the laudatio by Fr Giertych, giving his lectio magistralis on the "Thomas Aquinas: Doctor Magisterii Causa (simpliciter)", in which he focused on the "magister" of Saint Thomas, to whom reference was made for various and different requests to which the Angelic Doctor always responded rigorously and respectfully.

Fr Mantovani was awarded the International Prize, consisting of the Golden Torch, which recalls the dream St Thomas mother had when she was pregnant, dreaming of giving birth to a dog that carried a fiery torch in the world.

The Group's President, Gagliarducci, remarked that "with this year's edition, we have rewarded a ‘classic’ vision of Thomism, convinced that the return to the roots and thought of Thomas is necessary in an era like today, characterised by fragmentation of knowledge."

The event concluded with an address by the Ambassador of Lithuania to the Holy See, Sigita Maslauskaitė-Mažylienė, who focused on the importance of St Thomas Aquinas, and with an address from Cardinal Filoni, Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, who spoke of the reform of thought and the Church promoted by St Thomas and similarly by St Francis, both saints whose 800th anniversary is being celebrated in recent years.

The event was part of the celebrations of the three-year Jubilee regarding Saint Thomas Aquinas: in 2023 the 700th anniversary of the canonisation of Saint Thomas was celebrated, in 2024 the 750th anniversary of his death and in 2025 the 800th anniversary of his birth. Added to this is another important anniversary: the fiftieth anniversary of Paul VI's visit to Aquino in 1974.

Gagliarducci noted the combination of anniversaries, recalling that the Circolo San Tommaso was founded in 2009 following the discovery of the original address of Paul VI in Aquino. Paul VI, overwhelmed by the emotion of the people who had flocked there, spoke partially off-hand, even going so far as to say: "Where, if not at Aquino, can we study our theology?"

"We continue " Gagliarducci said "to make Paul VI's appeal our own. He came on pilgrimage to these places in search of ‘Thomas the teacher’, aware that that the teacher still has much to say to us today and that there is nothing more modern than his lucid, precise, direct thinking which is an antidote for us to today's liquid society that leads us to lose our sense of history and identities."

With this recognition, Fr Mantovani's name is now inscribed in a prestigious gold register. The list of winners of the International Thomas Aquinas Prize includes personalities such as Oxford jurist John Finnis and Paris Sorbonne philosopher Pasquale Porro, theologians Inos Biffi, Jean-Pierre Torrel, Ruedi Imbach and Gilles Emery, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi and Archbishop Jean Louis Bruguès, OP, Prefect Emeritus of the Vatican Apostolic Library. In 2022, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President Emeritus of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences, received the award, while in 2023 the Award went to the memory of Benedict XVI and was delivered to the Joseph Ratzinger / Benedict XVI Foundation, represented by its President, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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