This is a question directed at Roman Catholics, or anyone familiar with the history of the Roman Catholic church.

Every Doctor of the Church is a saint. I was curious if this is perhaps a requirement to be recognized as a Doctor, or if it is merely a "coincidence" (i.e. unintentional by the church) that all Doctors also happen be saints?

I've also noticed that some Doctors of the Church are also Early Church Fathers. The opposite is not true though - not all Fathers of the church are necessarily Doctors (see Origen, for example).

What exactly are the requirements to be appointed a Doctor of the Church?

  • The Wikipedia article states this exactly. Have a look. Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 14:57
  • 2
    Wikipedia seems to state it as if some parts are common knowledge though. I am curious if there are academic sources which describe the process of being appointed a Doctor, and how this process may have changed over the centuries.
    – Ryan
    Commented Aug 16, 2014 at 20:05
  • @MattGutting I am not sure why my screen shows that I downvoted this question. If anyone can be kind enough to edit the question so that I may rectify this.
    – user13992
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 4:36

1 Answer 1


Why the titled is conferred

Certain ecclesiastical writers have received this title on account of the great advantage the whole Church has derived from their doctrine.

Who confers it

To these great names others have subsequently been added. The requisite conditions are enumerated as three: eminens doctrina, insignis vitae sanctitas, Ecclesiae declaratio (i.e. eminent learning, a high degree of sanctity, and proclamation by the Church). Benedict XIV explains the third as a declaration by the supreme pontiff or by a general council. But though general councils have acclaimed the writings of certain Doctors, no council has actually conferred the title of Doctor of the Church. In practice the procedure consists in extending to the universal church the use of the Office and Mass of a saint in which the title of doctor is applied to him. The decree is issued by the Congregation of Sacred Rites and approved by the pope, after a careful examination, if necessary, of the saint's writings. It is not in any way an ex cathedra decision, nor does it even amount to a declaration that no error is to be found in the teaching of the Doctor. It is, indeed, well known that the very greatest of them are not wholly immune from error. No martyr has ever been included in the list, since the Office and the Mass are for Confessors. Hence, as Benedict XIV points out, St. Ignatius, St. Irenæus, and St. Cyprian are not called Doctors of the Church. - Source: Doctors of the Church | New Advent

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