MADRID — Pope Benedict XVI announced this morning that he will declare St. John of Avila the 34th “doctor of the church.”
The Spanish saint, who lived 1500-1569, was famed as a preacher, confessor and spiritual writer. He is best known for the works “Audi, Filia” (“Listen, Daughter”), which is a guide to the spiritual life, and for his “Treaty of God’s Love.” In Spain he is honored as the patron saint of diocesan priests.
St. John of Avila will become the 34th doctor of the church. St. Therese of Lisieux was the 33rd and it was at World Youth Day in Paris in 1997 that Blessed John Paul II announced his intention to name her among the church’s greatest, most influential spiritual writers and theologians.
He will join a list that includes early church fathers like Sts. Jerome, John Chrysostom and Augustine, and Catholic household names like Sts. Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure and fellow Spaniard, St. John of the Cross. There are three women doctors of the church: Sts. Therese of Lisieux, St. Catherine of Siena and St. Teresa of Avila.
Here is the Vatican’s translation of the pope’s announcement:
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 Saint 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 honor for ever. Amen.