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Augustine Thompson, OP

Professor of History

Fr. Augustine Thompson, O.P., is on extended leave from DSPT so that he can serve as the Praeses (Director) of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies at the University of Toronto in Canada. He can be contacted through the website of the Institute.


  • Master of Sacred Theology, Dominican Order
  • PhD, University of California, Berkeley
  • BA, MA, The Johns Hopkins University
  • BA (Philosophy), MDiv, Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology

Research Interests

  • Patristic Exegesis and its relationship to classical rhetoric
  • Coptic and Ge’ez literature

Courses Taught

  • History of Philosophy: Medieval (PHHS-1051)
  • History of Christianity I (HS-1105)
  • History of the Eastern Church (HS-2751)
  • History of Christian Eschatology (HSST-2310)
  • Patristic-Medieval Exegesis (HSBS-4050)
  • Art, Ritual, & Culture (RAHS-4179)
  • Aristotelian Logic (PH-1115)
  • Medieval Christianity (HS-6350)
  • Medieval Mystics Seminar (HSSP-4342/HSSP-5474)

Recent Publications

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From the Professor

As a historian of Medieval Christianity, my great love has been the religious culture of medieval Italy. Within days of my priestly ordination in 1985, I went to Bologna, Italy, and spent two years doing the research for my first book, which was on the preaching of the early Dominicans and its impact on the politics of the cities where they preached. This experience left me with an abiding love of Italians and all things Italian, especially the food, history and culture.

My research and writing have included extended periods in “il bel paese”, during which I did the research for two of my other books, one on the life of lay people in the age of Saint Dominic, Saint Francis, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Bonaventure, the other on Saint Francis of Assisi himself. As a scholar, I have been mostly influenced by my teachers in the History Department at the University of California, Berkeley, especially Peter Brown in Patristics, and Robert Brentano in Medieval Church History.

Three historians of religion have inspired my quest to uncover and make known the lived religion of medieval lay people: Robin Lane Fox, for his work on the lived experience of Ancient Christians and pagans, E. P. Sanders, for similar work on ancient Judaism, and Eamon Duffy, for his wonderful reconstruction of the lives of ordinary Catholics in pre-Reformation England. My current research involves the history of Dominican Lay Penitents (today's Dominican Laity) and that of Dominican lay brothers.

My personal hobbies and interests include detective novels, model railroading, hiking and walking and, last but not least, the music of Gilbert & Sullivan.

I am a member of the Core Doctoral Faculty of the GTU, American Catholic Historical Society, American Historical Association, American Society of Church History, The Medieval Academy of America, and Iuris Canonici Medii Aevi Consociatio (International Society of Medieval Canon Law).

Selected Media