Introduction to the
DOCTORS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
Definition and Complete List
by Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D., Catholic Theologian and Speaker
The title “Doctor of the Church,” unlike the popular title “Father of the Church,” is an official designation that is bestowed by the Pope in recognition of the outstanding contribution a person has made to the understanding and interpretation of the sacred Scriptures and the development of Christian doctrine.
As of 2010, there are thirty-three male and female Doctors of the Catholic Church who hail from all ages of the Church’s history. Of these, three are women (Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, and Therese of Lisieux) and twenty-four are quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (The eight who are not quoted are Saints Ephraem, Isidore, “the Venerable” Bede, Albert the Great, Anthony of Padua, Peter Canisius, Robert Bellarmine, and Lawrence of Brindisi).
There are three requirements that must be fulfilled by a person in order to merit being included in the ranks of the
“Doctors of the Catholic Church”:
1) holiness that is truly outstanding, even among saints;
2) depth of doctrinal insight; and
3) an extensive body of writings which the church can recommend as an expression of the authentic and life-giving Catholic Tradition.
During the "golden age of the Fathers,” (300-600), eight Doctors of the Church particularly stand out and are called “Ecumenical Fathers” because of their widespread influence. Bronze statues of several of these eight are to be found in St. Peter’s Basilica. Four of these Doctors of the Church hailed from the Western (Latin-speaking) half of the Roman Empire.
· St. Ambrose, 340-397
· St. Jerome, 345-420
· St. Augustine, 354-430
· St. Gregory the Great (Pope), 540-604
Four of the Ecumenical Fathers who were Doctors of the Church came from the Eastern (Greek-speaking) Roman Empire:
· St. Athanasius, 295-373
· St. Basil the Great, 330-379
· St. Gregory of Nazianzus, 330-390
· St. John Chrysostom, 345-407
There are eight other Doctors of the Church from the patristic period:
· 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
There are nine Doctors of the Church during the Latin Middle Ages:
· St. Bede “the Venerable,” 673-735
· St. Peter Damian, 1007-1072
· St. Anselm, 1033-1109
· St. Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090-1153
· 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
There are six Doctors of the Catholic Church who were prominent in the 16th century Catholic Reformation, all from the Latin Church:
· St. Teresa of Avila, 1515-1582
· St. Peter Canisius, 1521-1597
· St. John of the Cross, 1542-1591
· St. Robert Bellarmine, 1542-1621
· St. Lawrence of Brindisi, 1559-1619
· St. Francis de Sales, 1567-1622
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 (proclaimed Doctor of the Church by John Paul II 10/19/97)
This list of the Doctors of the Church was adapted from that provided by Louis Miller, Beacons of Light: Profiles of Ecclesiastical Writers Cited in the Catechism (Liguori, MO: Liguori, 1995), 61-62.
Follow Us -
Join us on Facebook
Join us on Twitter
Be a part of the “new springtime” of evangelization! Your tax-deductible gift helps us use TV, radio, and the web to proclaim the message without compromise but in language even the young can understand. Click here to donate now.
Click here to download, print and share!
For more on the Doctors of the Church and other Catholic resources to feed your faith,
visit the Crossroads Initiative Homepage.
To sign up for our free weekly e-mail with Dr. D'Ambrosio's commentary on the Sunday readings, liturgical feasts, updates on where Dr. D will be speaking, a chance to WIN a FREE CD and MORE, CLICK HERE!
The Early Church Fathers
A society characterized by the violence, loss of respect for life, exotic religious cults, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, and even pedophilia. No, we're not talking about modern times -
The Early Church Fathers succeeded in bringing a Pagan society to Christ. If we pay attention to what they taught, we will succeed in doing the same for our own de-Christianized society!
Album 1: The Apostolic Fathers and Irenaeus
Album 2: The Apologists, Ambrose, and Augustine
Early Church Fathers 2 DVD Set—$49.95
Early Church Fathers 2 CD Set—$18.00
Feast of Faith -
The Transforming Power of the Eucharist
"The Feast of Faith," is an enlightening, four-part adult faith formation series (on 2 CDs, or 2 DVDs) guaranteed to unlock the life-changing power of the Eucharist in your life. Be sure to order the Feast of Faith Workbook, you may view it online, to get the most out of this amazing Eucharist Series!
Feast of Faith DVD - $49.95
Feast of Faith – CD - $19.95
Feast of Faith Workbook - $6.95
Exploring the Catholic Church: An Introduction to Catholic Teaching & Practice
Exploring the Catholic Church: An Introduction to Catholic Teaching and Practice by Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio is an accessible, affordable Roman Catholic Book--perfect gift for anyone!! -- the inactive Catholic, the Sunday Catholic wanting to know more, Protestants who want to know why Catholics do what they do. In fact there are TWO chapters devoted to the meaning of the Eucharist and how to get more out of it! An enjoyable approach to faith formation and religious education.
I Believe - The Heart of the Catholic Faith - DVD Set
In this dynamic, four-part faith formation series, on the Creed, Dr. D'Ambrosio explains how this expression of the basic beliefs of Roman Catholicism is relevant to our personal relationship with God.
Confirmation - The Sacrament of Champions
Why do we need the sacrament of confirmation? What is the purpose and meaning of this sacramental anointing? These questions and more are answered by this dynamic talk appropriate for both teens and adults.
God's Seven Gifts: The Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church
The Catholic Church has always emphasized how important the seven sacraments are for our lives. Yet many take these 7 sacraments for granted. With little understanding of the sacraments, many are simply going through the motions. This CD will give you new insight into the meaning of these seven unique embraces of divine love that will unlock the power of the sacraments in your life!
BioLean® of the BioLean® Weight Management System - free-shipping
Ephedra-free BioLean®, of the BioLean® Weight Management System, is an excellent natural choice to help jump-start your healthy lifestyle. Designed to help curb your cravings, promote healthy energy levels, and satisfy your appetite, BioLean® is powered by Advantra Z®, the only patented citrus aurantium extract for weight loss on the market today. The great thing about BioLean® is that is can help reduce body fat even while promoting the development of lean muscle mass --the only path to long-term, healthy weight loss.