To convert somebody, go and take them by the hand and guide them.
–Attr. St. Thomas Aquinas
- Generic Google search. I don’t know why I try this. Actually I do–it finds the source of authentic quotations quickly most of the time. It turned up only the usual suspect quote aggregation sites this time.
- It’s not on wikiquote, neither on St. Thomas’s authentic quotes page nor on the talk page where disputed quotations go.
- It’s not in the English version of the Summa on New Advent. But I did find something that might lie behind the alleged quotation. In I.113.4, St. Thomas is speaking of guardian angels and says this:
Further, angels are appointed to the guardianship of men, that they may take them by the hand and guide them to eternal life, encourage them to good works, and protect them against the assaults of the demons.
The resemblances are obvious. I was curious how St. Thomas said “take by the hand and guide” in Latin. It’s one word: “manuducantur,” literally from “guide by the hand.” As given, it’s third person plural passive subjunctive. With this find, I was able to search the entire works of St. Thomas in Latin for the word, in plural, singular, indicative, and subjunctive. He uses it in several other places, but none of them are the original quotation we’re seeking.
Verdict: Probably taken from ST I.113.4, but the fauxtation has wandered rather far afield from its original context.