Two notes on St. Thomas’s writing

-St. Thomas’s handwriting is famous or its illegibility. I once asked a member of the Leonine commission (the Leonine commission spent 40 years trying to deciper an autograph of the Summa Contra Gentiles) why it was so sloppy, and I was told that the handwriting was evidently the handwriting of a man who wrote with extreme haste. This is simply staggering. Imagine a man forcing out the Summa Contra Gentiles at an extreme rate of speed.

-Towards the end of his life, St. Thomas dictated all of his manuscipts. We have it on eyewitness testimony that he could dictate texts in his sleep.



  1. Peter said,

    December 26, 2007 at 8:42 am

    Here are two images of the writing of St. Thomas. The first is in the margins and the second is his actual chicken-scratch speed-writing.

    I think Ralph McInerny mentioned a book once that was about the scribes St. Thomas dictated to at the end of his life. The name of it was something like “The Scribes of St. Thomas”. Unfortunately, I never found the book.
    It certainly is an interesting facet of his life. Quite amazing.

  2. Daniel said,

    December 27, 2007 at 7:05 am

    There is also a story that Aquinas would dictate to several secretaries (writing separate works) at once. He would give the next sentence of the work to his secretary and then turn to the next one and dictate a sentence for a different work. . .writing the books by adding one sentence at a time to each, simultaneously.

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