Doctors of the Catholic Church -Complete List

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 2016, the official list includes thirty-six male and female Doctors of the Catholic Church who hail from all ages of the Church’s history.  Of these, four are women (Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux, Hildegard of Bingen) and  twenty-four are quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Those who are not quoted are Saints Ephraem, Isidore, “the Venerable” Bede, Albert the Great, Anthony of Padua, Peter Canisius, Robert Bellarmine, John of Avila, Hildegard of Bingen, Gregory of Narek 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 era of the Church Fathers, (approximately AD 100-AD 800), eight Doctors 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 hailed from the Western (Latin-speaking) half of the Roman Empire.

Four of the Ecumenical Fathers who were Doctors of the Church came from the Eastern (Greek-speaking) Roman Empire:

There are eight other Doctors from the patristic period:

There are ten Doctors of the Church during the Middle Ages:

St. Catherine of Siena

There are seven Doctors of the Catholic Church who were prominent in the 16th century Catholic Reformation, all from the Latin Church:

  • St. John of Avila  1499-1569
  • 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 and definition was adapted and updated from that provided by Louis Miller, Beacons of Light: Profiles of Ecclesiastical Writers Cited in the Catechism (Liguori, MO: Liguori, 1995), 61-62.

 

 

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio

From a colorful and varied background as a professor of theology, a father of five, business owner, and professional performer Marcellino D’Ambrosio (aka “Dr. Italy”) crafts talks, blog posts, books, and videos that are always fascinating, practical, and easy to understand.  He is a TV and radio personality, New York Times best-selling author, speaker who has been leading people on a journey of discovery for over thirty years.