What does it mean to be a Doctor of the Church?

The title Doctor of the Church is one that is given by the Church to individuals who are recognized as having been of special importance, particularly regarding their contribution to theology or doctrine. The word doctor comes from the Latin word docere, to teach.[i]

There are three conditions to be declared a Doctor of the Church: Eminens doctrina – eminent learning; Insignis vitae – a degree of sanctity; and  Vitae sanctitas – proclamation by the Church.



In 1970 Pope Paul VI declared St. Catherine of Siena to be a Doctor of the Church.  On October 1, 1999, Pope John Paul II named her as one of the six patron saints of Europe. St. Catherine died on this date in 1380 at the age of 35.

St. Catherine lived as a Dominican tertiary. Today, her spiritual descendants , the members of the Dominican Laity, comprise the largest part of the Dominican Order. As we celebrate this year The Dominican Laity and Preaching, we pray that St. Catherine of Siena will continue to intervene for us and for the unification of the Church, igniting in each of us the fire to become all that we are called to be for God.

St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us!


[i] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor of_the_Church