St. Thomas of Villanova
Feast Day August 20
Thomas Garcia Martinez was born about 1486 in Fuenllana, Spain. He was raised in Villanueva de Los Infantes, which he is forever linked to. He studied at the University of Alcalá and later at Salamanca, where he entered the Order and was professed on November 25, 1517. On December 24, 1518, he was ordained, priest. He then taught theology in Salamanca and was given the duties of prior to the friary there and later at others.
In 1544 Charles V nominated him to the See of Valencia. He tried to decline, his provincial ordered him to accept. On October 10, 1544, Pope Paul III made the appointment. He was consecrated at Valladolid where he was then prior. The See of Valencia was ranked as first-class because of its size and resources but it was in poor condition because there had been no resident bishop. Thomas undertook a widespread reform, beginning with visitation within weeks of his arrival. He drew up statutes, founded the first seminary, helped young women to find employment rather than fall into disrepute, and saved many orphans from poverty. Personally, however, he sought to live always as a simple friar, preferring to wear his religious habit and giving generously to the poor.
His preaching h made a great impression and drew many to religious life, including the future Augustinians, Alonso de Orozco, and Juan de Muñatones, who became bishop of Sergobe. The sermons which Thomas left number more than 400 and have made nearly 19 editions.
Thomas died on September 8 and was buried in our friary of Our Lady of Help in Valencia as he had desired. Later his remains were moved to both the cathedrals of Valencia and Salamanca. He was beatified on October 7, 1618, by Paul V and canonized on November 1, 1658, by Alexander VII.