DOCTORS OF THE CHURCH

The Complete List of Doctors of the Church :


What is a Doctor of the Church? This is a very special title accorded by the Church to certain saints. This title indicates that the writings and preaching's of such a person are useful to Christians "in any age of the Church." Such men and women are also particularly known for the depth of understanding and the orthodoxy of their theological teachings. There are a certain number of "ecclesiastical writers" whose writings and preaching have an application limited to and directed at problems and opportunities their particular age. Such writings and preaching's can be difficult to apply to other sets of conditions. Such are never named Doctors. There is also a division of Doctors of the East and the West. All three women Doctors are of the West. They are St. Catherine of Sienna and St. Teresa of Avila, and most recently, St. Therese - the Little Flower. 

NameTitlesBornDiedPromotedActivity
St. Albertus Magnus
Doctor universalis
(Universal Doctor)
1193
November 15, 1280
1931
Bishop of Regensburg, Theologian,O.P.
Dominican
St. Alphonsus Liguori
Doctor zelantissimus
(Most Zealous Doctor)
1696
August 1, 1787
1871
Bishop of Sant'Agata de' Goti,C.Ss.R. (Founder)
Redemptorists
St. Ambrose
340 (ca.)
April 4, 397
1298
Bishop of Milan
St. Anselm
Doctor magnificus
(Magnificent Doctor);
Doctor Marianus
(Marian Doctor)
1033 or 1034
April 21, 1109
1720
Archbishop of Canterbury, O.S.B.
St. Anthony of Lisbon and Padua
Doctor evangelicus
(Evangelical Doctor)
1195
June 13, 1231
1946
Priest, O.F.M.
Franciscan
St. Athanasius
298
May 2, 373
1568
Archbishop of Alexandria
St. Augustine
Doctor gratiae
(Doctor of Grace)
354
August 28, 430
1298
Bishop of Hippo (now Annaba)
Cappadocian
St. Basil the Great
330
January 1, 379
1568
Bishop of Caesarea
St. Bede the Venerable
672
May 27, 735
1899
Priest, monk, O.S.B.
Benedictine
St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Doctor mellifluus
(Mellifluous Doctor)
1090
August 21, 1153
1830
Priest, O.Cist.
Cistercian
St. Bonaventure
Doctor seraphicus
(Seraphic Doctor)
1221
July 15, 1274
1588
Cardinal Bishop of Albano, Theologian, Minister General,O.F.M.
Franciscan
St. Catherine of Siena
1347
April 29, 1380
1970
Mystic, O.P. (Consecrated virgin)
Dominican
St. Cyril of Alexandria
Doctor Incarnationis
(Doctor of the Incarnation)
376
July 27, 444
1883
Archbishop of Alexandria
St. Cyril of Jerusalem
315
386
1883
Archbishop of Jerusalem
St. Ephrem
306
373
1920
Deacon
St. Francis de Sales
Doctor caritatis
(Doctor of Charity)
1567
December 28, 1622
1877
Bishop of Geneva OFM, Cap.
St. Gregory Nazianzus
329
January 25, 389
1568
Archbishop of Constantinople
Cappadocian
St. Gregory of Narek
951
1003
April 12, 2015
Monk, poet, mystical philosopher, theologian
St. Gregory the Great
540 (ca.)
March 12, 604
1298
Pope
St. Hilary of Poitiers
300
367
1851
Bishop of Poitiers
St. Hildegard of Bingen
1098
September 17, 1179
October 7, 2012
Visionary, theologian, composer, polymath, O.S.B. (Abbess)
St. Isidore of Seville
560
April 4, 636
1722
Bishop of Seville
St. Jerome
347 (ca.)
September 30, 420
1298
Priest, monk
St. John Chrysostom
347
407
1568
Archbishop of Constantinople
St. John Damascene
676
December 5, 749
1883
Priest, monk
St. John of the Cross
Doctor mysticus
(Mystic Doctor)
1542
December 14, 1591
1926
Priest, mystic, O.C.D. (Founder)
Carmelites (Discalced)
St. John of Ávila
1500
May 10, 1569
October 7, 2012
Priest, Mystic
St. Lawrence of Brindisi
Doctor apostolicus
(Apostolic Doctor)
1559
July 22, 1619
1959
Priest, Diplomat, O.F.M. Cap.
St. Leo the Great
400
November 10, 461
1754
Pope
St. Peter Canisius
1521
December 21, 1597
1925
Priest, S.J.
Jesuit
St. Peter Chrysologus
406
450
1729
Bishop of Ravenna
St. Peter Damian
1007
February 21, 1072
1828
Cardinal Bishop of Ostia, monk,O.S.B.
Benedictine
St. Robert Bellarmine
1542
September 17, 1621
1931
Archbishop of Capua, Theologian,S.J.
Jesuit
St. Teresa of Ávila
1515
October 4, 1582
1970
Mystic, O.C.D. (Founder)
Carmelites (Discalced)
St. Thomas Aquinas
Doctor angelicus
(Angelic Doctor);
Doctor communis
(Common Doctor)
1225
March 7, 1274
1568
Priest, Theologian, O.P.
Dominican
St. Thérèse of Lisieux
1873
September 30, 1897
October 19, 1997
O.C.D. (Nun)
Carmelites



The Doctors' works vary greatly in subject and form. Some, such as Pope Gregory I and Ambrose were prominent writers of letters and short treatises. Catherine of Siena and John of the Cross wrote mystical theology. Augustine and Bellarmine defended the Church against heresy. Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People provides the best information on England in the early Middle Ages. Systematic theologians include the Scholastic philosophers Anselm, Albertus Magnus, and Thomas Aquinas.

Until 1970, no woman had been named a doctor in the church, but since then four additions to the list have been women: Saints Teresa of Ávila (St. Teresa of Jesus) and Catherine of Siena by Pope Paul VI; Thérèse de Lisieux (St. Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face), "the Little Flower" by Pope John Paul II; and Hildegard of Bingen by Benedict XVI. Saints Teresa and Therese were both Discalced Carmelites, while St. Catherine was a lay Dominican.

As of 2015, the Catholic Church has named 36 Doctors of the Church. Of these, the 17 who died before the Great Schism of 1054 (marked * in the list below) are also venerated by the Eastern Orthodox Church (Gregory of Narek was from the Armenian Apostolic Church which was not in communion with Chalcedonian Church). Among these 36 are 27 from the West and 9 from the East; 4 women; 18 bishops, 12 priests, 1 deacon, 3 nuns, 1 consecrated virgin; 26 from Europe, 3 from Africa, 7 from Asia. More Doctors (12) lived during the 4th century than any other; eminent Christian writers of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd centuries are usually referred to as the Apostolic Fathers or Ante-Nicene Fathers, while the 9th, and 20th centuries have so far produced no Doctors at all. The shortest period between death and nomination was that of Alphonsus Liguori, who died in 1787 and was named a Doctor of the Church in 1871 – a period of 84 years; the longest was that of Ephrem the Syrian, which took fifteen and a half centuries.

On 20 August 2011, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would soon declare St. John of Ávila a Doctor of the Church. Although no official announcement was given, it was reported in December 2011 that Pope Benedict intended to declare Hildegard of Bingen as a Doctor of the Church despite her not yet having been officially canonised. The liturgical cult of St. Hildegard of Bingen was officially extended to the universal Church by Pope Benedict XVI on 10 May 2012, clearing the way for her to be named a Doctor of the Church. Pope Benedict formally declared SS John of Ávila and Hildegard of Bingen to be Doctors of the Church on 7 October 2012.

Pope Francis declared Saint Gregory of Narek to be Doctor of the Church on 21 February 2015.

In addition, parts of the Catholic Church have recognised other individuals with this title. In Spain, Fulgentius of Cartagena, Ildephonsus of Toledo and Leander of Seville have been recognized with this title. In 2007 Pope Benedict XVI, in his encyclical Spe Salvi, called Saint Maximus the Confessor 'the great Greek Doctor of the Church', though it is not yet clear as to whether this constitutes official recognition.

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Rev. Fr. Christopher Rengers, O.F.M.Cap.