On Sunday, October 7, Pope Benedict is scheduled to proclaim St. Hildegard of Bingen and St. John of Avila as the newest doctors of the Church.
A doctor (Latin, “teacher”) of the Church is a Christian writer who has been specially recognized by the Church for the value of his or her writings.
Earlier this year, Pope Benedict explained his decision to name these two individuals as doctors:
The Spirit, who “has spoken through the prophets”, with the gifts of wisdom and knowledge continues to inspire women and men who engage in the pursuit of truth, offering original ways of understanding and of delving into the mystery of God, of man and of the world.
In this context, I am delighted to announce that on 7 October, at the start of the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, I will proclaim St John of Avila and St Hildegard of Bingen Doctors of the universal Church.
These two great witnesses of the faith lived in two very different historical periods and cultural environments.
Hildegard was a Benedictine nun in the heart of medieval Germany, an authentic teacher of theology and a profound scholar of natural science and music.
John, a diocesan priest in the years of the Spanish Renaissance, shared in the travail of the cultural and religious renewal of the Church and of all society at the dawn of modern times.
But the sanctity of their life and the profundity of their doctrine render them perennially relevant: The grace of the Holy Spirit, in fact, projected them into the experience of penetrating understanding of divine revelation and intelligent dialogue with that world which constitutes the eternal horizon of the life and action of the Church.
Especially in light of the project for a new evangelization, to which the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, mentioned above will be dedicated on the eve of the Year of Faith, these two Saints and Doctors are of considerable and timely importance.
Even today, through their teaching, the Spirit of the Risen Lord continues to resonate his voice and illuminate the way which leads to the Truth that alone can set us free and give full meaning to our lives [Regina Caeli, Pentecost, May 27, 2012].
Meet St. Hildegard of Bingen
Let’s learn a bit about St. Hildegard of Bingen. Pope Benedict gave a pair of audiences on her a few years ago. He introduced her this way: