St. John of Avila to be proclaimed Doctor of the Church

Here’s an interesting bit of news made by Pope Benedict in Spain:

Announcement of the Holy Father

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

With great joy, here in this Cathedral Church of Santa María La Real de la Almudena, I announce to the People of God that, having acceded to the desire expressed by Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, Archbishop of Madrid and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Spain, together with the members of the Spanish episcopate and other Archbishops and Bishops from throughout the world, as well as many of the lay faithful, I will shortly declare Saint John of Avila a Doctor of the universal Church.

In making this announcement here, I would hope that the word and the example of this outstanding pastor will enlighten all priests and those who look forward to the day of their priestly ordination.

I invite everyone to look to St John of Avila and I commend to his intercession the Bishops of Spain and those of the whole world, as well as all priests and seminarians. As they persevere in the same faith which he taught, may they model their hearts on that of Jesus Christ the good Shepherd, to whom be glory and honour for ever. Amen.

I think we may need some direction from the Pontifical Council “Ecclesia Dei” about how to observe his feast, now that he will be a Doctor of the Church.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Brick by Brick, Just Too Cool and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Rellis says:

    Creates a problem/opportunity in the U.S.–same day as St. Damien of Molokai.

  2. Elizabeth D says:

    Wonderful news. Since the word was out that John of Avila (NOT the same person as John of the Cross, but a contemporary and an influence on the latter and on St Teresa of Avila, in fact he met both of them, though he was not a Carmelite) was to be named a Doctor of the Church I have been reading his most famous work, “Audi, Filia” (“Listen, O Daughter”, in English look for the Classics of Western Spirituality edition of his work). The thing that strikes me the most is that while it is the same perennial spirituality expressed by the two great Spanish Carmelite Doctors, it is written for a young woman much like so many young people today, and the guidance is of a sort that would be much MORE accessible and more likely to be correctly understood by young people today (versus John of the Cross and Teresa, who are my favorite Saints, whose teaching is very vital, but it must be admitted both of them are oft misunderstood). I think it is fitting he is being named a Doctor at WYD, because “Audi, Filia” is a book that can be given to youth (and adults) today, without needing a whole lot of introduction or explanations, that will speak, both beautifully and kindly, to their lives. Now that I am a little bit familiar with John of Avila’s work, I would say this is a better place for most people to start than the other Spanish Doctors. Saint Teresa recommends “Audi, Filia” both in “The Book of Her Life” and in her Constitutions, as recommended reading for her nuns. Surely she would still recommend it to us today.

  3. Is he also known as St. John of God?

  4. Elizabeth D says:

    St John of God was someone different, I think he founded an order of hospitaller brothers.

  5. Elizabeth D says:

    “[St John of God] experienced a major religious conversion on Sebastian’s day (January 20), while listening to a sermon by Saint John of Avila, who was later to become his spiritual mentor and would encourage him in his quest to improve the life of the poor.”

    He, too, apparently was a contemporary. 16th century Spain was busy with holiness and confusingly many St Johns.

  6. Mark of the Vine says:

    I find it fascinating that quite a few Doctors of the Church have Jewish background!

  7. Dr. Eric says:

    I thought St. Louis de Montfort would be next. Pope Benedict is full of surprises, I wonder how many Doctors he will declare.

  8. irishgirl says:

    This is so cool! Now Spain will have three Doctors!
    I echo Dr. Eric’s thought: how many Doctors will our Holy Father will declare?

  9. Elizabeth D says:

    I think one of the characteristics of Doctors of the Church is that what they have to say is for everyone, is the universal and perennial belief and spirituality of the Church. Although the teaching of St Louis de Montfort is theologically and spiritually sound, it’s not really universal in the same way, but is a more particular spirituality. Not everyone has to make the de Montfort consecration to approach God through Mary, it will never be obligatory (though anyone who REJECTS the idea of Mary as intercessor, perhaps even as mediatrix, is in error). For instance, this isn’t typical or encouraged for the Carmelites, even though that is another preeminintly Marian spirituality! Carmelites generally conceive of their relation to Mary differently even though it is still an intimate relation, as mother and sister, as a model of the perfect contemplative, rather than necessarily conceiving of going to Jesus through her. Rather our relation to Jesus is conceived of as primary and immediate like the relation of spouses, with the analogy or first instance of Mary at the Annunciation, at the foot of the Cross, etc, as a model for that immediacy which was in the first place and most perfectly the relationship of Mary to Jesus. I think this is genuinely not the same as de Montfort’s spiritual approach.

  10. capchoirgirl says:

    Elizabeth D. That sounds fantastic! I will have to look into getting that book. Never heard of it.

  11. moconnor says:

    If only anyone in Spain cared… The country is just about completely secular. Much work to be done.

  12. skull kid says:

    Thanks to fr Z for bringing this to my attention and to Elizabeth for the book recommendation – it has been added to my Amazon wishlist!

  13. sea the stars says:

    According to Sandro Magister, St. Bernardine of Siena could also be announced any time:

  14. Supertradmum says:

    Did not Jesus say to the scribe that he had the best of the old and the new covenant? “He said unto them: Therefore every scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven, is like to a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old.” Matthew 13:52. Those from Jewish backgrounds have the best of both worlds. There is no accident that this announcement comes at a time when Spain is as far away from Christ as it has ever been and needs such holy patrons and Doctors of the Church.

  15. ecclesiae says:

    Saint John of Avila was not cannonized until 1970. He is not on the Traditional Mass calendar.

  16. irishgirl —

    Four, if you include St. Isidore of Seville. (Though I guess that would count more geographically than politically.)

Comments are closed.