Recreating the Scholastic Mode of Study

In 2011, John Joy (STL 2012) and Louis Bolin (STL 2012), then students of the ITI and current alumni, founded the Albertus Magnus Center for Scholastic Studies (AMCSS). Its work has been carried on by other ITI graduates: Christopher Owens (STM 2015) and Daniel Lendman (STL 2016) together with Alan Fimister (STL 2014), who later became an ITI professor.

The center is dedicated to the study of sacred theology according to the mind and method of the great scholastics. This purpose is realized principally through summer theology programs in which students take part in an intensive course of studies in the form of the great universities of the high Middle Ages. Unique to these programs is the study of St. Thomas Aquinas in the way that St. Thomas himself would have studied; hence the dedication of the center to his own teacher, St. Albert the Great.

These programs thus strive to emulate in a modern context the three primary tasks of the medieval Magister in Sacra Pagina (teacher of Sacred Scripture): to read (legere), to dispute (disputare), and to preach (praedicare). Aquinas himself comments on these three tasks in his inaugural lecture as Master of the Sacred Page in Paris in 1256. He connects them to the words of Sacred Scripture, saying, “Of these three offices, namely, to preach, to read, and to dispute, it is said in Titus 1:9, that he may be able to exhort [with respect to preaching], in sound teaching [with respect to reading], and to refute opponents [with respect to disputation].” Hence, these programs focus on a close reading (legere) of the great texts of the theological tradition, utilizing a dialectical method that aims to arrive at knowledge of the truth, and culminating in a formal scholastic disputation (disputare). The task of preaching (praedicare) is fulfilled in two ways: first, by the preaching of the clergy in the context of the sacred liturgy, which nourishes and sustains the spirit of prayer and contemplation necessary for the study of sacred theology; secondly, by the academic lectures given by our teaching faculty, which are also a “speaking forth” (prae-dicare) of the great mysteries of the faith.

Since 2011, the Albert the Great Center has undertaken the study of many of St. Thomas Aquinas’ works, including his commentaries on St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, 1 Corinthians, Hebrews, Job, and the Sentences IV of Peter Lombard. The summer programs have traditionally been held in Norcia, Italy, in cooperation with the Benedictine Monks of Norcia. In 2019 the program is being held for the first time in the USA, in Wausau, Wisconsin, in cooperation with The Aquinas Institute for the Study of Sacred Doctrine.

For more information on the next Albertus Magnus summer theology program, see