Peter Lombard was allegedly one of the most important theologians of the Middle Ages. As Wikipedia states, he was:

Bishop of Paris, and author of Four Books of Sentences, which became the standard textbook of theology, for which he earned the accolade Magister Sententiarum. [...]

From the 1220s until the 16th century, no work of Christian literature, except for the Bible itself, was commented upon more frequently. All the major medieval thinkers, from Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas to William of Ockham and Gabriel Biel, were influenced by it. Even the young Martin Luther still wrote glosses on the Sentences, and John Calvin quoted from it over 100 times in his Institutes.

Later on the article mention just one doctrines with seem to be relatively controversial, but yet far from being declared heretic. It is know that even St. Augustine wrote things which are not in line with current official teaching or dogmas.

The Catholic Encyclopedia states about him:

On the whole and in spite of his connection with Abelard, he is orthodox; a proposition of his on "Christological nihilism" was condemned by Alexander III; other theses were abandoned in the century that followed; St. Bonaventure mentions eight of them and the University of Paris later added others. But the success of the book was incontestable; down to the sixteenth century it was the textbook in the university courses, upon which each future doctor had to lecture during two years.

Later on, the article states:

[T]he success of Peter Lombard was not immediate. Attacked sometimes during his lifetime, as Maurice of Sully among others relates, after his death he was bitterly inveighed against, especially by Gautier of St. Victor and by Joachim of Flora. This opposition even went so far as to try to get his writings condemned. In 1215 at the Lateran Council these attempts were baffled, and the second canon began a profession of faith in these words: "Credimus cum Petro [Lombardo]".

So he or his writings (except one or two points, it seems) were never really condemned. And yet, he seem to have never got ground for reverence among other great theologians of the Middle Ages. Is this the case? How can we explain this?

  • 1
    @Gordon Fr. Alister McGrath is an Anglican priest and could be well bias in his thoughts towards Catholicism.
    – Ken Graham
    Apr 1, 2019 at 19:32
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    The only way to actually verify this question is to check it out in the Index ac Status Causarum Beatificationis Servorum dei et Canonizationis Beatorum. It will take me a few week to check it out, if I actually remember to do so
    – Ken Graham
    Apr 1, 2019 at 19:44
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    @Gordon The Neo-Modernist, not-quite-ex-Lutheran Louis Bouyer thought all of Thomism is "boring", too, which doesn't say much. Peter Lombard is very well-respected.
    – Geremia
    Apr 1, 2019 at 20:20

3 Answers 3


Has Peter Lombard ever been venerated in the Catholic Church?

Has Peter Lombard ever been officially been given the title of venerable, as in the second step towards being canonized as a saint in the Catholic Church, the simple answer is no.

There seems to be no formal documentation to support the fact that he was venerated as such.

One of the biggest obstacles towards beatification and canonization is to have strong group of faithful to constantly push the case forward. Did Peter Lombard have this?

There is equally no doubt that Peter Lombard was indeed a very venerable and holy man.

On December 30,2010, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his weekly general audience to the person of Peter Lombard. Nowhere in his address, did the pope refer to Peter Lombard as being venerable, as in the sense that his process of canonization had been opened. If he had of been already declared a venerable by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Pope Benedict XVI would have placed this title prior to mentioning Peter Lombard.

During his general audience on Dec. 30, Pope Benedict XVI resumed his catechesis on the Christian culture of the Middle Ages. He spoke about Peter Lombard, an outstanding theologian, whose best-known work, the Sentences, became the standard introduction to theology for centuries, influencing the thought of scholars such as Sts. Albert the Great, Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas.

Dear brothers and sisters,

During this last audience of the year, I would like to speak to you about Peter Lombard, a theologian who lived during the 12th century and who is especially renowned because one of his works, the Sentences, was used as a standard text at schools of theology for many centuries.

Who, then, was Peter Lombard? Although there is little information about his life, we can reconstruct some essential facts. He was born between the 11th and the 12th centuries near Novara in northern Italy, in a land that had belonged to the Lombards for some time — hence the reason he was given the name of “Lombard.”

He came from a family of modest means, which we can deduce from the letter of introduction that Bernard of Clairvaux wrote for him to Gilduin, superior of the Abbey of St. Victor in Paris, asking him to take in Peter for free, since Peter wished to go to Paris to pursue his studies.

During the Middle Ages, it was not merely the nobles or the wealthy who could pursue their studies and aspire to important roles in the life of society at large or in the life of the Church. Even people of humble origins could attain such roles, like Gregory VII, the pope who held his ground in a confrontation with Emperor Henry IV, and Maurice of Sully, the archbishop of Paris who ordered the construction of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame and who himself was the son of a poor peasant.

Peter Lombard began his studies in Bologna, but later went to Reims and then to Paris. From 1140 onwards, he taught at the prestigious school of Notre Dame.

Respected and appreciated as a theologian, Pope Eugene III entrusted him eight years later with the task of examining the teachings of Gilbert Porretano, which had stirred up a great deal of controversy since they were regarded as not completely orthodox. After he was ordained a priest, Peter was named bishop of Paris in 1159, just a year before his death in 1160. - Peter Lombard, Theologian

Is Peter Lombard a Servant of God (Servus Dei)?

Personally, it is doubtful, for Benedict XVI never referred to Peter Lombard as a Servant of God.

To be declared a Servant of God, the first step towards canonization the process of canonization must be open at the local level by the local ordinary (bishop) or religious superior in the case the person is of a Religious Order.

To find this out one could email the Archdiocese of a Paris to find out.

Another way to actually verify this question is to check it out in the Index ac Status Causarum Beatificationis Servorum dei et Canonizationis ac Beatorum, if one can even locate this book.


According to

Bishop Lucensis commended Peter Lombard, who was from a poor family, to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who wrote a "note of recommendation" (billet de recommandation)* for Peter Lombard to the Abbot of St. Victor, in which he called Peter Lombard a "vir venerabilis" ("venerable man").

*St. Bernard's letter: Epist., CDX, P. L., t. CLXXXII, cols. 618C-619B, c. 1115, when Peter Lombard was 25-30 years old

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    Interesting, but not an answer to the question. "vir venerabilis" is just a formulation in a "note of recommendation", but has nothing to do with veneration after death.
    – K-HB
    Apr 2, 2019 at 10:23

There is nothing to explain about the particular case of Peter Lombard once the following general notions are taken into account.

On the one hand, a theologian can become canonized even if some of his writings are condemned by the Church, in this case obviously provided that he recants his errors once the Church condemns them (provided in turn that said condemnation was issued while the theologian was still alive).

On the other hand, a theologian can have all of his writings get an imprimatur by the Church and still not become canonized, beatified or anything. Doctrinal orthodoxy (at least intentional doctrinal orthodoxy, as in the previous paragraph,) is necessary but not sufficient for becoming a Servant of God / Blessed / Saint.

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