Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Some Things on the Doctors of the Church

This post is mostly for my own purposes, but I might as well explain it a bit. 'Doctor of the Church' is a special, officially given, liturgical title in Rome's Universal Calendar: it indicates (1) saints in the universal calendar who (2) were doctors (i.e., theological teachers) and who (3) have left theological writings that (4) are of extraordinary quality and considerable value for the whole community of the faithful. It originally grew up on its own as applied to a small group of especially important theologians (Athanasius, Basil, Nazianzen, Chrysostom, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Gregory the Great) and has since been extended outward by official recognition of a theologian as being in the same class. Because of (2) it is traditional not to consider martyrs for the title, despite a number of notable theologians in that category who fit all of the other criteria, because 'martyr' is a higher liturgical title than 'doctor' -- because of this martyrs would never be liturgically given a Mass for doctors, only for martyrs, and thus the title would be otiose. Likewise (3) is pretty restrictive; there have been some excellent theologians who don't qualify because we know of their work only indirectly and not from any writings they left (Saint Macrina comes immediately to mind). And, of course, there are extraordinarily important theologians who aren't saints in any calendar (Tertullian, Origen, if I recall correctly Theodore Abu-Qurra). These are just some different ways of listing the Doctors of the Church for the purpose of seeing what patterns there might be.

I. By Death Year
(sometimes approximate; year in parentheses is the year they were officially recognized as Doctor of the Church; asterisks indicate approximate length of intervening interval)

368 Hilary of Poitiers (1851)
373 Athanasius
373 Ephrem the Syrian (1920)
379 Basil of Caesarea
387 Cyril of Jerusalem (1883)
390 Gregory Nazianzen
397 Ambrose of Milan
407 John Chrysostom
*
420 Jerome
*
430 Augustine
*
444 Cyril of Alexandria (1883)
450 Peter Chrysologus (1729)
*
461 Leo the Great (1754)
**************
604 Gregory the Great
***
636 Isidore of Seville (1722)
*********
735 Bede (1899)
*
749 John Damascene (1883)
******************************
1072 Peter Damian (1828)
***
1109 Anselm (1720)
****
1153 Bernard of Clairvaux (1830)
*******
1231 Anthony of Padua (1946)
****
1274 Thomas Aquinas (1568)
1274 Bonaventure (1588)
1280 Albert the Great (1931)
*********
1379 Catherine of Siena (1970)
********************
1582 Teresa of Avila (1970)
1591 John of the Cross (1926)
1597 Peter Canisius (1925)
**
1619 Lawrence of Brindisi (1959)
1621 Robert Bellarmine (1931)
1622 Francis de Sales (1877)
****************
1787 Alphonsus Liguori (1871)
**********
1897 Therese of Lisieux (1997)

II. By Birth Year
(often approximate, especially for earlier figures)

293 Athanasius
300 Hilary of Poitiers
306 Ephrem the Syrian
313 Cyril of Jerusalem
*
329 Gregory Nazianzen
330 Basil of Caesarea
337 Ambrose of Milan
*
347 Jerome
349 John Chrysostom
354 Augustine
**
376 Cyril of Alexandria
380 Peter Chrysologus
**
400 Leo I
**************
540 Gregory I
**
560 Isidore of Seville
***********
672 Bede
676 John Damascene
*******************************
1007 Peter Damian
**
1033 Anselm of Canterbury
*****
1090 Bernard of Clairvaux
**********
1195 Anthony of Padua
1206 Albert the Great (although perhaps as early as 1193)
**
1221 Bonaventure
1225 Thomas Aquinas
************
1347 Catherine of Siena
****************
1515 Teresa of Avila
1521 Peter Canisius
**
1542 John of the Cross
1542 Robert Bellarmine
*
1559 Lawrence of Brindisi
1567 Francis de Sales
************
1696 Alphonsus Liguori
*****************
1873 Therese of Lisieux

III. By Year of Recognition

[Athanasius, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory Nazianzen, John Chrysostom, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Gregory the Great all received it by organically developed custom]

1568 Thomas Aquinas
**
1588 Bonaventure
*************
1720 Anselm of Canterbury
1722 Isidore of Seville
1729 Peter Chrysologus
**
1754 Leo the Great
*******
1828 Peter Damian
1830 Bernard of Clairvaux
**
1851 Hilary of Poitiers
**
1871 Alphonsus Liguori
1877 Francis de Sales
1883 Cyril of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, John Damascene
*
1899 Bede
**
1920 Ephrem the Syrian
1925 Peter Canisius
1926 John of the Cross
1931 Albert the Great, Robert Bellarmine
*
1946 Anthony of Padua
*
1959 Lawrence of Brindisi
*
1970 Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila
**
1997 Therese of Lisieux

IV. By Number of Years from Death to Recognition
(Color Code, very rough: Patristic Era, Scholastic Era, Counter-Reformation)
[Athanasius, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory Nazianzen, John Chrysostom, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Gregory the Great all received it by organically developed custom]

1547 Ephrem of Syria

1496 Cyril of Jerusalem
1483 Hilary of Poitiers
1439 Cyril of Alexandria

1293 Leo I
1279 Peter Chrysologus

1164 Bede
1134 John Damascene

1086 Isidore of Seville

756 Peter Damian
715 Anthony of Padua

677 Bernard of Clairvaux
651 Albert the Great
611 Anselm of Canterbury

591 Catherine of Siena

388 Teresa of Avila
340 Lawrence of Brindisi
335 John of the Cross
328 Peter Canisius
314 Bonaventure
310 Robert Bellarmine

294 Thomas Aquinas
255 Francis de Sales

100 Therese of Lisieux

84 Alphonsus Liguori

V. Various Miscellaneous Lists

Because of the split between East and West there are no Eastern Doctors after Damascene, making eight in total (Hilary, Athanasius, Ephrem, Basil, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory Nazianzen, Cyril of Alexandria, John Damascene).

There are three Carmelites (Teresa, John of the Cross, and Therese), two Jesuits (Canisius and Bellarmine), three Dominicans (Thomas, Albert, Catherine (Tertiary)), four Franciscans (Anthony, Bonaventure, Lawrence, Francis de Sales (Tertiary)), one Redemptorist (Liguori), and five Benedictines (Isidore [it is thought], Bede, Anselm, Bernard, Peter Damian). There are three women (Catherine, Teresa, Therese), two of whom were nuns (Teresa, Therese). There are nineteen bishops, of whom two were Patriarchs of Rome (Leo, Gregory), two Patriarchs of Alexandria (Athanasius, Cyril A), two Patriarchs of Constantinople (Nazianzen, Chrysostom), and one Patriarch of Jerusalem (Cyril J). That's actually very nice balance, although notably Antioch is missing, with no plausible candidate (interesting, given how important the See has been theologically). There is one deacon (Ephrem).

Some notable and influential theologians who very likely meet all the criteria but haven't yet received the designation: Gregory of Nyssa (whose absence is very noticeable), Epiphanius of Salamis, John of Avila, Jeanne de Chantal, Louis de Montfort.

Some notable and influential saints who very likely meet all the criteria except being on the Universal Calendar: Clement of Alexandria, Isaac the Syrian, Hildegard von Bingen, Gregory Palamas, Symeon the New Theologian, Nerses Shnorhali.

Some notable and influential saints who would be good candidates except that they are martyrs: Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Cyprian, Boethius, Thomas More, Edith Stein.

Some notable and influential theologians who will likely at some point be given the designation if their canonization process is ever completed: John Duns Scotus, John Henry Newman.

5 comments:

  1. awatkins696:44 PM

    I think Saint Louis de Montfort should be a Doctor.

    ReplyDelete
  2. awatkins696:45 PM

    I mean, I read somewhere that he likely will be.

    ReplyDelete
  3. branemrys7:13 PM

    That's a good point; I'll add him to the list.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ocham5:12 AM

    <span>

    This could almost be a Wikipedia article. [[Category: Notable and influential theologians who will likely at some point be given the designation if their canonization process is ever completed]]. =-O
    </span>

    ReplyDelete
  5. branemrys1:51 PM

    Which I suppose goes to show how easily Wikipedia articles can be thrown together.

    I'm no quite sure what the surprise-face is expressing surprise at -- that it's like a Wikipedia article or the category.

    ReplyDelete

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