Doctors of the Church


Writers who received this title from the Church, owing to their eminence in theology and holiness. They are extolled by the Church not primarily as witnesses of her faith (as are the Fathers), but on account of their brilliant exposition and skilful defense of Catholic doctrine. Unlike the titles of Doctor subtilis, Doctor resolutissimus, Doctor irrefragabilis, which enthusiastic scholars of the Middle Ages bestowed on renowned professors, this title is official. The first to confer it was Pope Boniface VIII, who in 1295 declared four Fathers the great Doctors of the Latin Church: Saint Ambrose of Milan, Saint Augustine of Hippo, Saint Jerome, and Saint Gregory the Great. The next to be declared a Doctor was Saint Thomas Aquinas in 1567. Since then more than twenty renowned theologians, all of them canonized saints, have received the same seal of approval, either from a pope or from the Sacred Congregation of Rites. Owing to their title, the Doctors of the Church enjoy a special authority in the Church, though not all in the same degree nor in the same manner. As a rule, the range and degree of their authority are set forth in the decree by which the title is conferred. Thus Saint Alphonsus of Liguori is recommended to theologians as a master of moral theology, Saint Jerome as biblical scholar, Saint Bonaventure as eminent in scholastic theology. Still, their writings are not thereby pronounced infallible throughout, but they are proposed as safe guides, so that their doctrines are to be preferred unless solid reasons favor the opposite.

The following are Doctors of the Church

Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “Doctors of the Church”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 26 July 2020. Web. 6 December 2021. <>