of Lisieux a Doctor of the Church
This is an official title given to Catholic saints notable for
the holiness of their lives, the distinction and orthodoxy of
their teaching, and their theological and spiritual learning.
This teaching and learning must be of universal relevance. It
is the Church, through the Pope, which declares that a saint is
a Doctor, following careful examination of a theological and historical
file by the Congregations of the Saints and of the Faith. Until
1970, there were 32 Doctors of the Church, all of them men. That
year, Paul VI added two women: Saint Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
and Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380).
It is worth noting that Saint Catherine could neither read nor
write. She dictated her "Dialogues" and her highly important
letters. This shows that a saint does not have to be highly educated
or teach in any formal sense to be a Doctor of the Church. Theology,
(words about God) is not a matter of speech but of experience,
and this experience is not expressed only in learned treatises.
The great women mystics of the Church all have a special place
in this heartfelt knowledge of the Divine Mystery, the Mystery
It is significant that women now figure prominently in the Catechism
of the Catholic Church. Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
is mentioned six times. She had written in all simplicity and
truth: 'Ah! If scholars who had spent their lives studying had
come to question me, they would certainly have been amazed to
see a fourteen year-old child understand the secrets of perfection,
secrets which all their learning cannot reveal to them, for only
the poor in spirit can possess them!."
And again, when boundless aspirations were tormenting her, she
said: "Ah! In spite of my littleness, I would like to enlighten
souls as did the Prophets and the Doctors. I have the vocation
of the Apostle."
Pope Names St.
Therese of Lisieux Doctor of the Church
October 20, 1997
VATICAN CITY (CWN)
- Pope John Paul named St. Thérèse of the Child
Jesus a Doctor of the Church on Sunday, only the third time such
an honor has been bestowed on a woman.
"In answer to
the wishes of a great number of my brother bishops and a multitude
of the faithful throughout the world, after having consulted with
the Congregation for the Cause of the Saints, and after having
obtained the advice of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith in approval of the doctrine, and after long deliberation
... we declare as Doctor of the Universal Church, St. Thérèse
of the Infant Jesus and the Holy Face, virgin," said the
Holy Father in bestowing the honor.
of Lisieux, France, also known as "The Little Flower,"
was only 24 years old when she died in 1897 of tuberculosis. The
Holy Father's proclamation naming her the 33rd Doctor in the history
of the Church, is a title given to certain saints whose writings
have been of fundamental influence in the development of the Church's
teachings. St. Catherine of Siena and St. Teresa of Avila were
named Doctors by Pope Paul VI in 1970.
"Among the Doctors
of the Church, Thérèse of the Child Jesus and Holy
Face is the youngest, but her spiritual itinerary shows such maturity
and the intuitions of her faith expressed in her writings are
so vast and so profound, that they merit a place among the great
spiritual masters," the Holy Father said in his homily in
St. Peter's Square. Relics of the saint were transported from
France and placed in a special gold urn in St. Peter's.
The Holy Father announced
during World Youth Day in Paris in August that he would bestow
the title on St. Thérèse on World Mission Sunday,
October 19. Although the young nun entered the Carmelite cloister
at age 15 and never traveled except for a brief pilgrimage to
Rome, she is patron saint of missionaries because of her promise
to pray for all missions. The Pontiff also declared St. Thérèse
a role model for young people. "Thérèse of
Lisieux is a saint who remains young despite the years that pass,
and she is an eminent model for Christians of our day along the
road to the third millennium," he said.