Standard Article

Doctors of the Church

  1. David B. Warner

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc0432

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Warner, D. B. 2011. Doctors of the Church. The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


At the end of the 13th century, Pope Boniface VIII named four pastors as “outstanding teachers of the Church” (egregii doctores ecclesiae): Ss. Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Gregory the Great. They became known as “The Great Fathers of the Church,” and later, after the parallel naming of four Great Eastern Doctors, they were known as the Four Great Doctors of the Western Church. For their part, the Eastern Orthodox prefer to venerate as a group the “Three Holy Hierarchs” of Ss. Basil, Gregory Nazianzus, and John Chrysostom, while still giving high honor to St. Athanasius.


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  • “the great fathers of the church”;
  • four great doctors of the western church;
  • “three holy hierarchs” of Ss. Basil, Nazianzus, and John Chrysostom;
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  • “late medieval” and “modern” doctors;
  • venerable, Cardinal Newman, insights of patristic, with the modern age