Doctors of the Church: What, Who, and Why

You may have noticed back in January that we were promoting the works of St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Basil of Caesarea, St. Gregory Nazianzus, St. Hilary of Poitiers, and St. Francis de Sales.  You may have noticed further that each of these great saints had feast days in January.  Bonus points for those in the audience that also realized that each of these saints is also designated as a “Doctor of the Church.” We’ll be talking a lot about the Doctors of the Church this year.

What is a “Doctor of the Church?”

The Catholic Church recognizes 36 exemplary saints from throughout the history of the church as doctors, which in Latin means teacher. The Doctors are designated as such for their extraordinary teaching on some aspect of ecclesial life, including, preaching, prayer, holiness, but above all in the way in which they shared their faith and way of life with the Church.

Who are the Doctors of the Church?

The following list of the 36 doctors is ordered according to their appearance on the liturgical calendar.

Saint Feast Date
Hilary of Poitiers  1/13
Basil of Caesera  1/02
Gregory Nazianzus  1/02
Thomas Aquinas  1/28
Francis de Sales  1/24
Gregory of Narek  2/27
Peter Damian  2/21
Cyril of Jerusalem  3/18
Isidore of Seville  4/04
Anselm of Canterbury  4/21
Catherine of Siena  4/29
Athanasius of Alexandria  5/02
Bede the Venerable  5/25
John of Avila  5/10
Ephrem the Syrian  6/09
Cyril of Alexandria  6/27
Anthony of Padua  6/13
Augustine of Hippo  8/28
Peter Chrysologus  8/30
Bernard of Clairvaux  8/20
Bonaventure  8/15
Lawrence of Brindisi  8/21
Alphonsus Liguori  8/01
Jerome  9/30
Gregory the Great  9/03
Robert Bellarmine  9/17
John Chrysostom  9/13
Hildegard of Bingen  9/17
Teresa of Ávila 10/15
Thérèse of Lisieux 10/01
Leo the Great 11/10
Albertus Magnus 11/15
Ambrose of Milan 12/7
John Damascene 12/4
John of the Cross 12/14
Peter Canisius 12/21

Why the Doctors of the Church?

The Church has chosen to recognize these great saints for our edification and so we can learn from their teaching. For similar reasons, we are choosing to focus our attention here at Verbum in 2018 on the Doctors of the Church because if there are any resources you should have in your library outside of the Bible and the Catechism—it is the works of these great saints. Whether it is research, everyday study, or daily devotions, we want you to get to know them (and so does the Church).

So, in January, if you missed our doctors, then we have extended the sale on their resources through February 28th.

Each month throughout 2018 we will be featuring each doctor who has a feast for that month. We will be selecting resources written by or about them for you to add to your Verbum library. So stay tuned and don’t miss this opportunity to build your library with the best the Church has to offer.

Written by
Craig St. Clair

Craig St. Clair is the Verbum Product Manager at Faithlife. He holds a Master of Arts in Systematic Theology from St. John's University's School of Theology in Collegeville, MN. He is a convert to the Catholic faith and is married with two boys.

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Written by Craig St. Clair