Tag Archives: doctor of the church

St. Athanasius (297-373 AD)

Feast Day: May 2
Canonization: Pre-congregation
Doctor of the Church; Father of Orthodoxy; Patron of Theologians

Born to an Egyptian Christian family in the late 3rd century, Athanasius became the 20th bishop of Alexandria. He is best known for refuting the Arian heresy, which suggested that Christ was made, not begotten, by God the Father.

As a deacon, Athanasius served as Bishop Alexander’s secretary at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. A gifted theologian, Athanasius suggested the term consubstantial — which the Council adopted — to say that Christ was of the same substance as God the Father.

Athanasius was also a strong defender of the Incarnation, and of the Blessed Virgin’s role in salvation history. In a 4th century letter, he wrote that the Eternal Word of God took on human nature from His mother.

“Even when the Word takes a body from Mary, the Trinity remains a Trinity, with neither increase nor decrease. It is forever perfect,” wrote Athanasius, who was exiled at least five times for his defense of orthodox Christian teaching.

Athanasius died in Alexandria on May 2, 373 AD. His relics are venerated in Venice and Cairo.

St. Isidore of Seville (560-636 AD)

Isidore was born into a noble family; his sister and two brothers are also saints . . 

St. Isidore of Seville

Feast Day: April 4
Patron of students, computers, the Internet

Isidore was born into a noble Spanish family. His two brothers were both bishops and his sister was a nun. All became saints.

As a young boy he struggled academically under the tutelage of his older brother Leander, bishop of Seville. In despair Isidore ran away from school. While resting along the roadside he noticed how the persistent dripping of water from a spring had worn a hole in the rock. This inspired Isidore to return to school and apply himself with new-found fervor.

He proceeded to achieve tremendous academic success. When Leander died, Isidore became bishop of Seville. He was instrumental in converting Prince Recared, a leader in the Arian heresy.

Isidore helped unite the nation at a time when many had contempt for knowledge and learning. He presided over national synods and councils, which further eradicated heresies, and he strengthened the study of law, medicine and languages. Isidore played a prominent role in the Councils of Toledo and Seville. The legislation resulting from the councils exercised an important influence on the beginnings of representative government.

Isidore employed the same heroic perseverance demonstrated in mastering his academics in order to be an effective spiritual and intellectual leader in Spain. He strengthened the Catholic Church in his country, authoring numerous theological works, an encyclopedia, dictionary, religious books and history resources.

Isidore also established seminaries and religious houses of study. As a man of charity he served the poor with great passion, giving away many of his possessions. He was canonized in 1598 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1722.

This column is produced for Legatus by the Dead Theologians Society, a Catholic apostolate for high school age teens and college age young adults. On the web: deadtheologianssociety.com

St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897)

Feast Day: October 1

Doctor of the Church: 1997

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, also known as the “Little Flower,” was one of the most ambitious saints in history. As a young girl she was determined to become a saint. “I have the vocation of the apostle,” she wrote. “Martyrdom was the dream of my youth, and this dream has grown with me.”

Thérèse was born in Alençon, France, the daughter of Louis Martin, a watchmaker, and Zélie-Marie Guérin, a lacemaker. The Holy Father recently approved a miracle worked through the couple’s intercession. The couple will be beatified on Oct. 19 in Lisieux.

Thérèse joined the Carmelite Order in 1888 at the age of 15. She is known for her “Little Way.” In her quest for sanctity, she realized that it was not necessary to accomplish heroic acts or great deeds in order to attain holiness and to express her love of God.

She wrote, “Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers, and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.”

Thérèse’s dream of reaching far distant lands with the love of Christ as a missionary were fulfilled by daily offering her sweeping, washing dishes and praying for the salvation of souls — all of which she did with a profound understanding of the global repercussions of her offering to God.

The saint’s spiritual diary, The Story of a Soul, is recognized as one of the greatest spiritual works of the 19th century. Thérèse is one of three female Doctors of the Church. In recognition of her prayer commitment for missionaries, she was named Patroness of the Missions.

This column is produced for Legatus by the Dead Theologians Society, a Catholic apostolate for high school age teens and college age young adults. On the web: deadtheologianssociety.com.