Doctor of the Church

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Doctor of the Church is a title conferred, in the Roman Catholic church, by the pope and in other churches by equivalent authorities on "certain Christian theologians of outstanding merit and acknowledged saintliness" (Livingstone, 2006). A canonized Saint whose understanding and interpretation of scripture and doctrine has taught the church in general, including a substantial body of writings. The earliest of these are foundational in Christian theology, long p[re-dating the Great Scism and even more the development of Protestantism. is, on proclamation by The Pope, to be regardedf as a Doctor of the Church. Doctors of the church are traditionally grouped into periods. The first is the group of Ecumenical Doctors, four from the Latin church - that is, they lived and taught in the western half of the Roman Empire:

Four of the Ecumenical Fathers also deemed Doctors came from the Eastern (Greek-speaking) half of Roman Empire:

Eight other Doctors from the patristic period (~ to 700CE):

  • St. Ephraem the Deacon, 306-373 (Syriac)
  • St. Hilary, 315-368 (Latin)
  • St. Cyril of Jerusalem, 315-387 (Greek)
  • St. Cyril of Alexandria, 376-444 (Greek)
  • St. Leo the Great (Pope), 390-461 (Latin)
  • St. Peter Chrysologus, 400-450 (Latin)
  • St. Isidore of Seville (last of the Latin Fathers), 560-636
  • St. John Damascene (last of the Greek Fathers), 676-749

Eleven Doctors of the Church are recognized from the Middle Ages, all of them except the last from the Latin or Western Church:

  • St. Anselm, 1033-1109
  • St. Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090-1153
  • St. Hildegard of Bingen, 1098-1179
  • St. Anthony of Padua, 1195-1231
  • St. Albert the Great, 1200-1280
  • St. Bonaventure, 1217-1274
  • St. Thomas Aquinas, 1225-1274
  • St. Catherine of Siena, 1347-1379
  • St. Gregory of Narek 951-1003 (from the Armenian Church)

There are two Doctors of the Church in the modern era, both from the Latin Church:

   St. Alphonsus Liguori, 1696-1787
   St. Therese of Lisieux, 1873-1897


Much of the information on this page has been taken from the [Crossroads Initiative], the [Doctors of the Church website] and [the Catholic Encyclopedia]..