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Who are the Doctors of the Church?

Who are the Doctors of the Church?

Andrea da Firenze, “St. Thomas Aquinas Enthroned Between the Doctors of the Old and New Testaments” c. 1365 (Public Domain)

From Catholic Encyclopedia

The requisite conditions to be named a Doctor of the Church are enumerated as three:

1 – Eminent learning

2 – A high degree of sanctity

3 – Proclamation by the Church

Pope Benedict XIV (1675-1758) explains the third as a declaration by the supreme pontiff or by a general council. But though general councils have acclaimed the writings of certain Doctors, no council has actually conferred the title of Doctor of the Church. In practice the procedure consists in extending to the universal church the use of the office and mass of a saint in which the title of doctor is applied to him. the decree is issued by the Congregation of Sacred Rites and approved by the pope, after a careful examination, if necessary, of the saint’s writings. It is not in any way an ex cathedra decision, nor does it even amount to a declaration that no error is to be found in the teaching of the Doctor. It is, indeed, well known that the very greatest of them are not wholly immune from error. No martyr has ever been included in the list, since the Office and the Mass are for Confessors. Hence, as Benedict XIV points out, St Ignatius, St Irenaeus, and St Cyprian are not called Doctors of the Church.

Doctors of the Church

St Albert the Great (1200-80?). Dominican. Patron of natural scientists; called doctor universalis, doctor expertus.

St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787). Patron of confessors and moralists. Founder of the Redemptorists.

St Ambrose (340-97). One of the four traditional Doctors of the Latin Church. Opponent of Arianism in the WeSt Bishop of Milan.

St Anselm (1033-1109). Archbishop of Canterbury. Father of Scholasticism.

St Anthony of Padua (1195-1231). Franciscan Friar Evangelical Doctor.

St Athanasius (297-373). Bishop of Alexandria. Dominant opponent of Arianism. Father of Orthodoxy.

St Augustine (354-430). Bishop of Hippo. One of the four traditional Doctors of the Latin Church. Doctor of Grace.

St Basil the Great (329-79). One of the Three Cappadocian Fathers. Father of monasticism in the East.

St Bede the Venerable (673-735). Benedictine priest Father of English history.

St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153). Cistercian. Called Mellifluous Doctor because of his eloquence.

St Bonaventure (1217-74). Franciscan theologian. Seraphic Doctor.

St Catherine of Siena (1347-80). Mystic. Second. woman Doctor.

St Cyril of Alexandria (376-444). Patriarch. Opponent of Nestorianism. Made key contributions to Christololgy.

St Cyril of Jerusalem (315-87). Bishop and opponent of Arianism in the East.

St Ephraem the Syrian (306-73). Biblical exegete and ecclesiastical writer. Called Harp of the Holy Spirit.

St Francis De Sales (1567-1622). Bishop, leader in Counter-Reformation. Patron of Catholic writers and the Catholic press.

St Gregory I the Great (540-604). Pope. Fourth and last of the traditional Doctors of the Latin Church. Defended papal supremacy and worked for clerical and monastic reform.

St Gregory of Narek (951-1011). Armenian mystical and lyrical poet, monk, and theologian.

St Gregory of Nazianzus (330-90). Called the Christian Demosthenes because of his eloquence and, in the Eastern Church, the Theologian. One of the Three Cappadocian Fathers.

St Hilary of Poitiers (315-68). Bishop. Called the Athanasius of the West.

St Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, visionary, and polymath.

St Isidore of Seville (S60-636). Archbishop, theologian, historian. Regarded as the most learned man of his time.

St Jerome (343-420). One of the four traditional Doctors of the Latin Church. Father of biblical science.

St John Chrysostom (347-407). Bishop of Constantinople. Patron of preachers and called Golden- Mouthed because of his eloquence.

St John Damascene (675-749). Greek theologian. Called Golden Speaker because of his eloquence.

St. John of Ávila (1499-1569). Spanish priest, preacher, scholastic author, and mystic.

St John of the Cross (1542-91). Joint founder of the Discalced Carmelites. Doctor of Mystical Theology.

St Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619). Vigorous preacher of strong influence in the post-Reformation period.

St Leo I the Great (400-61). Pope. Wrote against Nestorian and Monophysite heresies and errors of Manichaeism and Pelagianism.

St Peter Canisius (1521-97). Jesuit theologian. Leader in the Counter-Reformation.

St Peter Chrysologus (400-50). Bishop of Ravenna. Called Golden-Worded.

St Peter Damian (1007-72). Benedictine. Ecclesiastical and clerical reformer.

St Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621). Jesuit. Defended doctrine under attack during and after the Reformation. Wrote two catechisms.

St Teresa of Avila (1515-82). Spanish Carmelite nun and mystic. First woman Doctor.

St Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897). French Carmelite nun. Known as the Little Flower, her autobiographical “Story of a Soul” has become a spiritual classic, inspiring millions to follow her “Little Way” of holiness. Already Patroness of the Missions, she was proclaimed the third woman Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II on October 19th, 1997.

St Thomas Aquinas (1225-74). Dominican philosopher and theologian. Called Angelic Doctor. Patron of Catholic schools and education.

(taken from: “Pocket Catholic Dictionary,” Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ)

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