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At Rome it was decided that he should go to Paris, and so early in May 1244 he left Rome in the company of John of Wildeshausen, third master of the order, and John's companions, who were traveling to Bologna for the general chapter that met annually at Pentecost.Learning of her son's entry into a begging order, Teodora, now head of the family, hastened to Naples, then to Rome, only to learn that her son had departed for Bologna.By 1243 Thomas was attracted to the Dominicans living nearby at the priory of San Domenico.This order of mendicant friars, founded by Dominic (11701221) and confirmed by Pope Honorius III in 1216, was devoted to preaching, study, and the common life.The struggle between the pope and the emperor reached a climax in 1239, when Frederick was excommunicated a second time.The imperial troops occupied the abbey, foreigners were expelled, and the young students were sent to one of the Benedictine houses in Naples to attend the imperial university founded in 1224 as a rival to Bologna.
For the next four years Thomas continued to attend and write down Albert's lectures on Dionysius and his questions on Aristotle's Ethics.
Impressed by their apostolic zeal, poverty, and simplicity and free from obligation, Thomas received the habit in April 1244 at the age of nineteen.
Under normal circumstances he would have made his novitiate at San Domenico, but because the friars feared that Thomas's family might intervene forcibly to prevent his entrance to the order, he was sent to Rome.
As the youngest son of the family, Thomas was given (oblatus, "offered") to the Benedictine abbey of Monte Cassino by his parents at the age of five or six in the firm hope that he would eventually choose the monastic life and become abbot.
His earliest training was in the spiritual life, mainly through the Latin psalter, and in the rudiments of reading, writing, and mathematics.