Blessed John Duns Scotus

Blessed John Duns ScotusAlso known as

  • Doctor Subtilis
  • Johannes Scotus
  • The Subtle Doctor



Son of a wealthy farmer. Friar Minor at Dumfries where his uncle Elias Duns was superior. Studied at Oxford and Paris. Ordained 17 March 1291 at Saint Andrew’s Church, Northampton at age 25. Lectured at Oxford and Cambridge from 1297 to 1301 when he returned to Paris to teach and complete his doctorate.

John pointed out the richness of the AugustinianFranciscan tradition, appreciated the wisdom of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Aristotle and the Muslim philosophers, and still managed to be an independent thinker. His ideas led to the founding of a school of Scholastic thought called Scotism. In 1303 when King Philip the Fair tried to enlist the University of Paris on his side in a dispute with Pope Boniface VIII over the taxation of Church property, but John dissented and was given three days to leave France.

He returned to Paris in 1305, and received his doctorate. He then taught there, and in 1307 so ably defended the Immaculate Conception of Mary that the university officially adopted his position. Drawing on this work, Pope Pius IX solemnly defined the Immaculate Conception of Mary in 1854.

The Franciscan minister general assigned John to the Franciscan school in Cologne, Germany; he died there the next year.





The whole of Scotus’s theology is dominated by the notion of love. The characteristic note of this love is its absolute freedom. As love becomes more perfect and intense, freedom becomes more noble and integral both in God and in man. Father Charles Balic, O.F.M., 20th-century authority on Scotus

MLA Citation

  • “Blessed John Duns Scotus“. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 June 2020. Web. 30 November 2021. <>