Summer Program 2017

"Divine Power in a Hidden Way:
Thomas' Commentary on the Sentences IV"

July 2nd - July 14th in Norcia, Italy

"these are the sacraments, in which, under the cover of visible things, divine power works our healing in a hidden way, as Augustine says."
~St. Thomas Aquinas, Prologue, Commentary on IV Sentences

Program Description
The theme for the 2017 Summer Program is Sacramental Theology. We will be undertaking a close reading of selected texts from the Commentary of Aquinas upon the Fourth Book of the Sentences of Peter Lombard. The Sentences was the standard "textbook" of the 13th and 14th century University of Paris, and all bachelors were required to write a commentary. Thus, in this work we find the thought of a relatively young Thomas Aquinas, having begun his writing of it at around 28 years of age.

This study is a particularly noteworthy one, as it will be the first time a study of Aquinas' Commentary on the Sentences will be undertaken with recourse to a full-translation of the Latin into English, thus making it accessible to all.

"He sent his Word and healed them, and delivered them from all their destructions (Ps 107:20). By the sin of the first man, the human race incurred two things, namely, death and infirmity. Death, because of its separation from the principle of life, of which it is said, with you is the font of life (Ps 36:9); whoever is separated from this principle necessarily dies, and this happened through the first man. Hence it is said, by one man sin entered the world, and by sin, death (Rom 5:12).

"But a sufficient remedy could be obtained for this only from the word of God, which is the font of wisdom on high (Sir 1:5) and, accordingly, the source of life: for wisdom endows its possessor with life (cf. Sir 7). Thus it is said, as the Father raises up the dead and gives life, so the Son also gives life to whom he will (Jn 5:20). The word is the power of God, by which all things are upheld: upholding all things by the word of his power (Heb 1:3). And this is why it is efficacious for removing infirmity.

"Therefore in this way three things are touched upon in the words above: namely, the preparation of this medicine, healing from infirmity, and liberation from death. The preparation of the medicine is touched upon when it says, he sent his word. This should be understood as referring to the incarnation of the Word, who is said to be sent by God because he became flesh: God sent his Son, born of a woman (Gal 4:4).

"It should also be understood as referring to the institution of the sacraments, in which the word is combined with the element and the sacrament is made; so that in this way a sacrament is similar to the Incarnate Word. For sensible creation is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer (1 Tim 4:5)."

Sancti Thomae de Aquino,
Scriptum super IV Sententiis

In accordance with the particular mission of the Saint Albert the Great Center for Scholastic Studies, which seeks to promote the study of theology according to the mind and method of the great scholastics, the core of every Summer Program lies in the attentive reading and thoughtful discussion of the great texts of the Catholic theological tradition. After Scripture itself, pride of place belongs to the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and especially to St. Thomas Aquinas.

Our verbal commentary on these texts, carried out in a formal seminar setting, is intended to approximate the scholastic practice of written commentary undertaken by the theological ‘baccalaureates’ of the day (e.g. St. Thomas’s commentary on the Sentences of ‘the Master’ Peter Lombard). Participants in the program will be expected to read the assigned selections before each seminar in order to come prepared to participate actively in group discussion of the texts. Although every participant is expected to contribute his or her insights to aid the entire group in coming to a deeper understanding, these seminars will be guided by our program directors, who have advanced degrees in theology, competency in the subject matter, and experience in the seminar method of pedagogy, or by other guest professors with appropriate academic degrees and experience.

Fr. Cassian, O.S.B.
The second part of the program consists of a series of lectures delivered by our ‘masters’ of theology, who consist of the Fellows of the Center, joined by members of the monastery of St. Benedict in Norcia. A keynote will be given by Fr. Cassian Folsom, the founder of the community. Topically, the lectures will complement the subject-matter of the seminars.

Scholastic Disputation
The program reaches its culmination with our authentic scholastic disputation: the questions to be disputed will be announced at least one day in advance, and the participants divided into teams, which will be assigned to argue either for or against each question. Each participant will be expected to form his or her own thoughts on the questions, and attempt to answer them. At the disputation itself, members of each team will offer arguments in scholastic style as an objection or a ‘sed contra’ (“it seems that…” or “it seems not…”). After each team has argued its case, the 'Magister' of the disputation will give his solution, and then reply to each of the arguments posited by the participants.

Throughout the two weeks of the program there will also be ample opportunities for spiritual activities. Even though this past year has seen the devastation of the town and of the monastery, the Fathers are working with us to ensure that the spiritual needs of the program participants will be met. Holy Mass will be available daily, provided by one of the monks or fathers on the faculty (Usus Antiquior). We are still working to arrange participation in the chanting of the Divine Office. The priests of the monastery will be available for spiritual counseling, guidance, and/or confessions upon request.

view from the site of the 2017 program, "in monte"

Finally, the enrichment of mind and spirit fostered by attentive reading of the Scriptures and participation in the prayers and liturgical celebrations of the monastery will be complemented by moments of relaxation and cultural activities. The town of Norcia is located right at the edge of the beautiful Mount Sibilini National Park. Optional excursions will be organized to nearby towns (places to be announced) - in the past, we have traveled to Assisi and Cascia. See the Excursions Itinerary for more details.

Calendar and Schedule

May 16. Deadline for applications for 2017 Summer Program. 350 Euro deposit due upon acceptance.

June 01. Deadline for remainder of payment for 2017 Summer Program.

July 2. Sun. Arrival Day.
July 3. Mon. Normal Program Schedule.
July 4. Tues. Normal Program Schedule.
July 5. Wed. Normal Program Schedule.
July 6. Thur. Normal Program Schedule.
July 7. Fri. Normal Program Schedule.
July 8. Sat. Optional Excursion to Assisi.
July 9. Sun. Optional Excursion to Cascia.

July 10. Mon. Normal Program Schedule.
July 11. Tues. Normal Program Schedule.
July 12. Wed. Modified Program Schedule.
July 13. Thur. Modified Program Schedule.
July 14. Fri. Departure

Normal Program Schedule

06:00-06:45. Lauds.
07:00-08:15. Breakfast.
08:30-09:45. Seminar 1.
10:00-11:00. Holy Mass.
11:30-12:30. Lecture.
12:45-14:15. Lunch.
14:30-15:45. Seminar 2.
16:00-17:15. Open for reading, etc.
17:30-18:15. Vespers.
18:30-19:30. Dinner.
19:45-20:00. Compline.

Eligibility: The 2017 Summer Program is open to all applicants 18 years and older. The application process includes the completion of an application form and the submission of a letter of recommendation.


Quadruple room: 1050 Euro
Triple room: 1175 Euro
Double room: 1300 Euro
Single room: 1550 Euro.

Camping (bring your own equipment): 550 Euro
Camping (rental equipment provided): 800 Euro

See our Housing Page for more details.

Click here for updated exchange rates. The price includes tuition, program materials, room, and full-board in Norcia. Participants should also plan some extra money for excursions, souvenirs, etc. Payment can be made by check, credit card, or paypal account. If paying with U.S. Dollars, simply calculate the amount necessary based on the exchange rate at the time of payment. Contact us with any questions.

Course Book: We are very blessed to be in partnership with the Aquinas Institute, who is giving us a substantial discount on the beautifully bound volume of St. Thomas' Commentary on IV Sentences (Retailed at $40). This will be included as a part of the program fees!

Location: The 2017 Summer Program will be held in Norcia, Italy. Norcia is a small town in the province of Perugia in southeastern Umbria. For directions on reaching Norcia, see Getting to Norcia.

Course Credits: The Saint Albert the Great Center for Scholastic Studies is not a degree granting institution, but we will assign grades and provide official transcripts verifying completion of a four credit-hour course for those who are interested.

To Apply: Apply now online and complete the application form, and have your letters of recommendation emailed to the following address:

Once you are accepted, you will be asked for a 350 Euro deposit to confirm your space on the program.