Contemplata aliis tradere

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Contemplata aliis tradere is a Latin phrase which translates into English as "to give to others the fruit of contemplation." Drawn from the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, the phrase is often used to express the distinct Dominican view of vocation, and for that reason, it has become a motto of the Dominican Order.[1]

Thomas Aquinas's text[edit]

In his Summa Theologica, begun in 1265 approximately fifty years after St. Dominic founded the Dominican Order, Thomas Aquinas wrote: Vita contemplativa simpliciter est melior quam activa quae occupatur circa corporales actus, sed vita activa secundum quam aliquis praedicando et docendo contemplata aliis tradit, est perfectior quam vita quae solum contemplatur, quia talis vita praesupponit abundantiam contemplationis. Et ideo Christus talem vitam elegit (Summa Theologica, III, q. 40, a. 1, ad 2). (Translation: "the contemplative life is, absolutely speaking, more perfect than the active life, because the latter is taken up with bodily actions: yet that form of active life in which a man, by preaching and teaching, delivers to others the fruits of his contemplation, is more perfect than the life that stops at contemplation, because such a life is built on an abundance of contemplation, and consequently such was the life chosen by Christ.").[2]

Dominican spirituality[edit]

The phrase of Saint Thomas came to express the heart of the vocation and spirituality of the Dominicans. It is a core motto of the order. Since the foundation of the Order in (1216) by Saint Dominic and under his direct inspiration, the Preachers dedicated themselves to the meditation and study Scripture, while having the explicit goal of entering the apostolic ministry. They combine contemplative life and apostolic ministry.


  1. ^ Chenu, Marie-Dominique, Aquinas and his role in theology, (Liturgical Press, 2002), p. 46.
  2. ^ "Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, IIIª q. 40-45". 

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