Monday, April 13, 2015

Doctors of the Church

As I noted previously, news reports were out in February noting that Pope Francis had accepted the recommendation to make Gregory of Narek the 36th Doctor of the Church, but (as I also noted then) he could not actually have the title, which is a liturgical one, until he was given a place on Rome's general calendar for the appropriate liturgical honors. This was done on April 12, and so it is now official; his feast day is February 27, as it was in the Roman Martyrology. This is an updated post.

'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 and are 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). It was later conferred on Thomas Aquinas, and shortly afterward, Bonaventure, in order to recognize that these theologians were, in their own ways and according to the formats of their time, teachers of the Church of the same caliber as the prior Doctors of the Church. It 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' -- 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, Theodore Abu-Qurra, Leo XIII). What follows are various lists in which different kinds of theological periods and overlaps can be observed.

I. By Death Year
(sometimes approximate; year in parentheses is the year they were officially recognized as Doctor of the Church; to show gaps, asterisks indicate approximate length of intervening interval between death years, each asterisk indicating approximately a decade)

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)
1003 Gregory of Narek (2015)
1072 Peter Damian (1828)
1109 Anselm (1720)
1153 Bernard of Clairvaux (1830)
1179 Hildegard von Bingen (2012)
1231 Anthony of Padua (1946)
1274 Thomas Aquinas (1568)
1274 Bonaventure (1588)
1280 Albert the Great (1931)
1379 Catherine of Siena (1970)
1569 John of Avila (2012)
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
951 Gregory of Narek
1007 Peter Damian
1033 Anselm of Canterbury
1090 Bernard of Clairvaux
1098 Hildegard von Bingen
1195 Anthony of Padua
1206 Albert the Great (although perhaps as early as 1193)
1221 Bonaventure
1225 Thomas Aquinas
1347 Catherine of Siena
1500 John of Avila
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
2012 John of Avila, Hildegard of Bingen
2015 Gregory of Narek

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
1012 Gregory of Narek

833 Hildegard of Bingen

756 Peter Damian
715 Anthony of Padua

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

591 Catherine of Siena

443 John of Avila

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. Recognition by Papal Reign

225. Pius V
Thomas Aquinas

227. Sixtus V

243. Clement XI
Anselm of Canterbury

244. Innocent XIII
Isidore of Seville

245. Benedict XIII
Peter Chrysologus

247. Benedict XIV
Leo the Great

52. Leo XII
Peter Damian

253. Pius VIII
Bernard of Clairvaux

255. Pius IX
Hilary of Poitiers
Alphonsus Liguori
Francis de Sales

256. Leo XIII
Cyril of Alexandria
Cyril of Jerusalem
John Damascene

258. Benedict XV
Ephrem the Syrian

259. Pius XI
Peter Canisius
John of the Cross
Albert the Great
Robert Bellarmine

260. Pius XII
Anthony of Padua

261. John XXIII
Lawrence of Brindisi

262. Paul VI
Catherine of Siena
Teresa of Avila

264. John Paul II
Therese of Lisieux

265. Benedict XVI
John of Avila
Hildegard of Bingen

266. Francis I
Gregory of Narek

VI. Various Comments

Because of the split between East and West, for most of the history of the title there have been no Eastern Doctors after Damascene. However, Gregory of Narek lived after Damascene and brings the total to nine (Hilary, Athanasius, Ephrem, Basil, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory Nazianzen, Cyril of Alexandria, John Damascene, Gregory of Narek).

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 or six Benedictines (Isidore [it is thought], Bede, Anselm, Bernard, Hildegard, Peter Damian).

There are four laypersons, all of them women (Hildegard, Catherine, Teresa, Therese), three of whom were nuns (Hildegard, Teresa, Therese). There are nineteen bishops, of whom two were Patriarchs of Rome (Leo, Gregory), two Patriarchs of Alexandria (Athanasius, Cyril of Alexandria), two Patriarchs of Constantinople (Nazianzen, Chrysostom), and one Patriarch of Jerusalem (Cyril of Jerusalem). There is no Patriarch of Antioch with the title. There is one deacon (Ephrem).

The period in which the most Doctors of the Church were added most quickly was the period from 1920 to 1931; in those eleven years, five saints were given the title. The Popes who proclaimed the most saints 'Doctor of the Church' were Leo XIII and Pius XI, with four each.

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