Jacques Maritain Center

Catechism of the
"Summa Theologica"


Saint Thomas Aquinas

For the Use of the Faithful


R. P. Thomas Pègues, O.P.

Master in Theology
Member of the Roman Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas
Formerly Professor of St. Thomas at the Collegio Angelico, Rome
Now Regent of Studies at St. Maximin, France
Adapted from the French and
Done into English by Aelred Whitacre, O.P.

"Deriventur fontes ti foras;
et in plateis aquas tuas divide."

-- Prov. V. 16.

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F. Thomas Bergh, O.S.B.,
Censor Deputatus

IMPRIMATUR: Edm. Can. Surmont,
Vicar Generalis

Die 8 Junii, 1922


Brief of His Holiness Pope Benedict XV


The First Part

Of God
Sovereign Being: Cause and Lord of All Things

  1. Of God's existence
  2. Of God's nature and attributes
  3. Of the divine operations
  4. Of the divine persons
  5. Of the creation
  6. Of the world
  7. Of the angels: their nature
  8. Of the inner life of the angels
  9. Of the creation of the angels
  10. Of the probation of the angels
  11. Of the fall of the bad angels
  12. Of the creation of material substances, and the work of the six days
  13. Of man: his nature; his spiritual and immortal soul
  14. Of the vegetative and sensitive powers
  15. Of the mind and its act of understanding
  16. Of man's powers of loving: free will
  17. Of man's origin or his creation by God
  18. Of the state of happiness in which man was created
  19. Of the conservation of things and their government
  20. Of God's action in the government of the universe; and of miracles
  21. Of the action this government
  22. Of the angels: the hierarchies and the orders
  23. Of the action of the good angels on the corporeal world.
  24. Of the action of the good angels upon man; the guardian angels
  25. Of the action of the bad angels or of the demons
  26. Of the action of the material world or of the whole of the cosmos
  27. Of the action of man himself
  28. Of the point upon which the whole course of divine government is centered

The Second Part

Of Man
Who came from God and who must return to Him

First Section
General View of Man's Return to God

  1. Of man's resemblance to God
  2. Of the last end or happiness
  3. Of the object of this happiness
  4. Of the possession of this happiness
  5. Of the means of realizing this possession, or of the good acts
  6. Of what is implied in a human act for it to be a good meritorious act
  7. Of the affective movements (passions)
  8. Of the virtues
  9. Of the gifts which crown and perfect the virtues
  10. Of the beatitudes and of the fruit of the Holy Spirit
  11. Of vices which are the principle of man's bad actions
  12. Of original sin, and of its consequences
  13. Of the diverse gravity of sins
  14. Of mortal sins and venial sins
  15. Of the exterior principle (law)
  16. Of divers laws; and first, of the eternal law
  17. Of the natural law
  18. Of human law
  19. Of the divine law -- the decalogue
  20. Of grace

Second Section
Detailed View of Man's Return to God

  1. Of the species of good and bad acts considered in detail
  2. Of faith and its nature
  3. Of the gifts of the holy ghost that correspond to faith
  4. Of the precepts relating to faith
  5. Of hope and its nature -- of the vices opposed thereto
  6. Of the gift of fear which corresponds to the virtue of hope
  7. Of the precepts relating to hope
  8. Of charity and its nature
  9. Of the secondary acts, or the effects of charity
  10. Of the vices opposed to charity and their acts: of hatred
  11. Of the precepts relating to charity
  12. Of the gift of wisdom which corresponds to charity
  13. Of the moral virtues: of prudence, its nature and elements
  14. Of the gift of counsel which corresponds to prudence
  15. Of the sins that are opposed to prudence, viz., of imprudence
  16. Of the precepts relating to prudence
  17. Of justice and its nature; of law; of natural law; of positive
  18. Of the act of particular justice, viz.,judgment
  19. Of particular justice, and of its species
  20. Of the act of commutative justice, viz., of restitution
  21. Of the sins opposed to distributive justice
  22. Of the right of property, and of the duties it entails
  23. Of the sins against justice by words; of the judgment
  24. Of the sins of speech committed in the ordinary course of life
  25. Of the sins that deceive our neighbour (fraud and usury)
  26. Of the elements of the virtue of justice
  27. Of the virtues attaching to justice: of religion
  28. Of religion and its nature
  29. Of religion and its interior acts: of devotion; of prayer
  30. Of the external acts of religion: of adoration; of sacrifice
  31. Of the sins opposed to religion: of superstition, and of divination
  32. Of filial respect towards one's parents, and towards one's country
  33. Of reverence towards superiors
  34. Of gratitude
  35. Of revenge or of retributive justice
  36. Of truthfulness -- and of the sins opposed thereto
  37. Of friendship; and of the opposite sins
  38. Of liberality; and of the sins opposed thereto
  39. Of natural equity (or epikeia)
  40. Of the gift of piety
  41. Of the precepts relating to justice
  42. Of the virtue of fortitude and its act; of martyrdom
  43. Of the virtues annexed to fortitude; of magnanimity
  44. Of magnificence; and of the sins thereto opposed
  45. Of patience -- of longanimity and of constancy
  46. Of perseverance; and of the sins opposed thereto
  47. Of the gift of fortitude
  48. Of the precepts relating to fortitude
  49. Of temperance; of abstinence, and of fasting
  50. Of sobriety and of the sin opposed to it, viz., drunkenness
  51. Of chastity and of virginity
  52. Of the virtues annexed to temperance, viz., of continence
  53. Of clemency and of meekness; and of the sins opposed thereto
  54. Of modesty: of humility and of its opposite sin pride
  55. Of the virtue of the studious
  56. Of external modesty
  57. Of the gift that corresponds to the virtue of temperance
  58. Of the precepts relating to temperance
  59. Of the two kinds of life, viz., of the active and the contemplative

The Third Part

Jesus Christ
God made man in order to lead men to God

  1. Of the mystery of the Incarnation
  2. Of the fittingness and necessity of the Incarnation
  3. Concerning that which the son of God took of us
  4. Of the privileges or prerogatives of the human nature
  5. Of the fulness of grace in the human nature
  6. Of the grace of Christ in so far as he is head of the church
  7. Of the knowledge of Christ: of his beatific knowledge
  8. Of the power of our Lord Jesus Christ as man
  9. Of the defects of Christ's human nature;
  10. Of the consequences of the incarnation of the son of God
  11. Of the unity and multiplicity in Jesus Christ
  12. Of the consequences of the incarnation of God the son
  13. Of Christ's divine sonship; and of his predestination
  14. Of the consequences of the incarnation in relation to us
  15. Of the manner according to which the incarnation took place
  16. Of Christ's entry into the world
  17. Of the name Jesus Christ given to God the son incarnate
  18. Of the baptism of Jesus Christ
  19. Of our blessed Lord's life on earth: of his temptation
  20. Of our blessed Lord's leavin'g this world
  21. Of our Lord's descent into hell
  22. Of the exaltation of Jesus Christ: of his resurrection
  23. Of his ascension; and of his authority
  24. Of the sacraments of Jesus Christ: of their nature and
  25. Of the sacrament of baptism: of its nature
  26. Of those who can receive the sacrament of baptism
  27. Of the effects of the sacrament of baptism
  28. Of the dignity and of the duties
  29. Of the sacrament of confirmation; of its nature and necessity
  30. Which of the two sacraments requires the better instruction: confirmation or Holy Eucharist?
  31. Of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist
  32. Of the matter and form of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist
  33. Of the effects of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist
  34. Of the reception of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist
  35. Of the minister of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist
  36. Of the holy sacrifice of the mass
  37. Of the sacrament of penance: of its nature and virtue
  38. Of the effects of the sacrament of penance
  39. Of the part of the penitent in the sacrament of penance
  40. Of the minister of the sacrament of penance,
  41. Of the sacrament of extreme unction
  42. Of the sacrament of holy orders
  43. Of the sacrament of matrimony; of its nature, impediments, duties
  44. Of the intermediary state of souls after death and of purgatory
  45. Of heaven
  46. Of hell
  47. Of the particular judgment
  48. Of the place of those who are not judged (limbo of infants)
  49. Of the end of the world and the sequel thereof
  50. Of the resurrection
  51. Of the last judgment
  52. Of eternal punishment
  53. Of eternal happiness


To our well-beloved son Thomas Pègues of the Order of Friars Preachers.


Greeting and Apostolic Benediction.

The manifold honours paid by the Holy See to St. Thomas Aquinas exclude for ever any doubt from the mind of Catholics with regard to his being raised up by God as the Master of Doctrine to be followed by the Church through all ages. It was therefore fitting that the singular wisdom of the Holy Doctor should be made accessible not only to the clergy but to the faithful in general, and to whomsoever desired to make a deeper study of the things of religion; for in very truth, the nearer one approaches to the light, so much the more is one enlightened.

Much praise is therefore due to you first of all because you have undertaken to write a commentary in your mother tongue [French] upon the greatest work of the Angelic Doctor, viz., the Summa Theologica (the volumes already published of this work show what success has attended your labours); and, secondly, because you have recently published the Summa Theologica in the form of a catechism. Therein you have aptly accomodated the riches of the great genius to the understanding of the less instructed as well as of the learned; briefly and succinctly you have expounded the doctrine, and in the same luminous order as that of the Angelic Doctor whose treatise is more lengthy and more detailed.

We congratulate you sincerely on this fruit of your labours which shows your masterly knowledge of St. Thomas' doctrine. We hope, therefore, through your love of Holy Church that this work will bring many souls to a sound knowledge of Christian doctrine.

As a mark of the divine largess and in testimony of our own special good will we impart in all affection to you and to your pupils the Apostolic Benediction.

Given at Rome at St. Peter's the fifth day of February, 1919, in the fifth year of our Pontificate,



The author of the original work asked me personally to translate his book into English. I have done so; but the genius of the English language did not permit a literal translation. The present book is therefore in some sense rather an adaptation than a literal translation, although the latter has been strictly adhered to wherever possible.

In the original work the answer always repeats the whole question word for word; in the cause of brevity and sometimes for clearness' sake, I have adopted the simple answer of "yes" or "no" lest the reader tire with the insistency of the ceaseless repetition.

Those readers who wish to study the doctrine more deeply will find much help in the references quoted at the end of most of the answers to the questions; they refer to the Summa Theologica itself, which has been translated literally into English [To be had of Burns, Oates and Washbourne] by the Dominican Fathers of the English Province. To take an example: On p. 9 of this book there is the question: Does the Providence of God extend also to inanimate things? And the answer: Yes, for they are a part of God's handiwork (XXII. 2, Obj. 5). The reference here quoted means that the doctrine in its every detail is to be found in the reply to the 5th Objection of the 2nd Article of the 22nd Question of the First Part of the Summa. It should be noted that the citation of "First Part" is not added to the quotation for the simple reason that the particular "part" of the Summa to which the quotation refers may easily be found by consulting the table of Contents. Moreover, whenever necessary and in order to give additional strength to the doctrines of St. Thomas, reference has been made to the new Code of Canon Law; e.g., on p. 289 (Code, Canon 1036). Thus this work is brought up to date.

AE. W.

Feast of St. Nicholas
(December 6, 1921)