History +Saints: Josephine Bakhita

Josephine Bakhita
Italian saint and former slave (1869–1947)
Josephine Margaret Bakhita,
F.D.C.C. (ca. 1869 – 8 February 1947), was a Sudanese-Italian Canossian religious sister who lived in Italy for 45 years, after having been a slave in Sudan. In 2000, she was declared a saint, the first Black woman to receive the honor in the modern era.
Quick Facts SaintJosephine Margaret Bakhita F.D.C.C., Religious sister …
Saint
Josephine Margaret Bakhita
F.D.C.C.
Religious sister
Born
c. 1869
Olgossa, Sultanate of Darfur
Died
8 February 1947 (aged 77–78)
Schio, Veneto, Italy
Venerated in
Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Communion
Beatified
17 May 1992, St Peter\’s Basilica, Vatican City by Pope John Paul II
Canonized
1 October 2000, St Peter\’s Basilica, Vatican City by Pope John Paul II
Feast
8 February
Patronage
Sudan, South Sudan, and human-trafficking survivors

Biography
Early life
She was born around 1869 in Darfur (now in western Sudan) in the village of Olgossa, west of Nyala and close to Mount Agilerei. She was one of the Daju people; her respected and reasonably prosperous father was brother of the village chief. She was surrounded by a loving family of three brothers and three sisters; as she says in her autobiography: \”I lived a very happy and carefree life, without knowing what suffering was\”.
Slavery

In 1877, when she was 7–8 years old, she was seized by Arab slave traders, who had abducted her elder sister two years earlier. She was forced to walk barefoot about 960 kilometres (600 mi) to El-Obeid and was sold and bought twice before she arrived there. Over the course of twelve years (1877–1889) she was sold three more times and then she was finally given her freedom.


\’Bakhita\’ was not the name she received from her parents at birth. It is said that the trauma of her abduction caused her to forget her original name; she took one given to her by the slavers, bakhīta (بخيتة), Arabic for \’lucky\’ or \’fortunate\’. She was also forcibly converted to Islam.


In El-Obeid, Bakhita was bought by a rich Arab who used her as a maid for his two daughters. They treated her relatively well, until after offending one of her owner\’s sons, wherein the son lashed and kicked her so severely that she spent more than a month unable to move from her straw bed. Her fourth owner was a Turkish general, and she had to serve his mother-in-law and his wife, who were cruel to their slaves. Bakhita says: \”During all the years I stayed in that house, I do not recall a day that passed without some wound or other. When a wound from the whip began to heal, other blows would pour down on me.\”


She once said that the most terrifying of all of her memories there was when she (along with other slaves) was marked by a process resembling both scarification and tattooing, which was a traditional practice throughout Sudan. As her mistress was watching her with a whip in her hand, a dish of white flour, a dish of salt and a razor were brought by a woman. She used the flour to draw patterns on her skin and then she cut deeply along the lines before filling the wounds with salt to ensure permanent scarring. A total of 114 intricate patterns were cut into her breasts, belly and into her right arm.
By the end of 1882, El-Obeid came under the threat of an attack of Mahdist revolutionaries. The Turkish general began making preparations to return to his homeland and sold his slaves. In 1883, Bakhita was bought in Khartoum by the Italian Vice Consul Callisto Legnani, who did not beat or punish her. Two years later, when Legnani himself had to return to Italy, Bakhita begged to go with him. At the end of 1884 they escaped from a besieged Khartoum with a friend, Augusto Michieli. They travelled a risky 650-kilometre (400 mi) trip on camelback to Suakin, which was the largest port of Sudan. In March 1885 they left Suakin for Italy and arrived at the port of Genoa in April. They were met there by Augusto Michieli\’s wife, Maria Turina Michieli, to whom Legnani gave ownership of Bakhita. Her new owners took her to their family villa at Zianigo, near Mirano, Veneto, about 25 km (16 mi) west of Venice. She lived there for three years and became nanny to the Michieli\’s daughter Alice, known as \’Mimmina\’, born in February 1886. The Michielis brought Bakhita with them back to the Sudan where they stayed for nine months before returning to Italy.
Conversion to Catholicism and freedom
Suakin on the Red Sea was besieged but remained in Anglo-Egyptian hands. Augusto Michieli acquired a large hotel there and decided to sell his property in Italy and to move his family to Sudan permanently. Selling his house and lands took longer than expected. By the end of 1888, Turina Michieli wanted to see her husband in Sudan even though land transactions were unfinished. Since the villa in Zianigo was already sold, Bakhita and Mimmina needed a temporary place to stay while Micheli went to Sudan without them. On the advice of their business agent Illuminato Cecchini, on 29 November 1888, Michieli left both in the care of the Canossian Sisters in Venice. There, cared for and instructed by the Sisters, Bakhita encountered Christianity for the first time. Grateful to her teachers, she recalled, \”Those holy mothers instructed me with heroic patience and introduced me to that God who from childhood I had felt in my heart without knowing who He was.\”

When Michieli returned to take her daughter and maid back to Suakin, Bakhita firmly refused to leave. For three days, Michieli tried to force the issue, finally appealing to the attorney general of the King of Italy; while the superior of the Institute for baptismal candidates (catechumenate) that Bakhita attended contacted the Patriarch of Venice about her protegée\’s problem. On 29 November 1889, an Italian court ruled that because the British had outlawed slavery in Sudan before Bakhita\’s birth and because Italian law had never recognized slavery as legal, Bakhita had never legally been a slave. For the first time in her life, Bakhita found herself in control of her own destiny, and she chose to remain with the Canossians. On 9 January 1890, Bakhita was baptized with the names of \’Josephine Margaret\’ and \’Fortunata\’ (the Latin translation of the Arabic Bakhita). On the same day, she was also confirmed and received Holy Communion from Archbishop Giuseppe Sarto, the Cardinal Patriarch of Venice and later Pope Pius X.


Canossian Sister
Church of the Holy Family, Schio
On 7 December 1893, Josephine Bakhita entered the novitiate of the Canossian Sisters and on 8 December 1896, she took her vows, welcomed by Cardinal Sarto. In 1902 she was assigned to the Canossian convent at Schio, in the northern Italian province of Vicenza, where she spent the rest of her life. Her only extended time away was between 1935 and 1939, when she stayed at the Missionary Novitiate in Vimercate (Milan); mostly visiting other Canossian communities in Italy, talking about her experiences and helping to prepare young sisters for work in Africa. A strong missionary drive animated her throughout her entire life – \”her mind was always on God, and her heart in Africa\”.
During her 42 years in Schio, Bakhita was employed as the cook, sacristan, and portress (doorkeeper) and was in frequent contact with the local community. Her gentleness, calming voice, and the ever-present smile became well known and Vicenzans still refer to her as Sor Moretta (\”little brown sister\”) or Madre Moretta (\”black mother\”). Her special charisma and reputation for sanctity were noticed by her order; the first publication of her story (Storia Meravigliosa by Ida Zanolini) in 1931, made her famous throughout Italy. During the Second World War (1939–1945) she shared the fears and hopes of the townspeople, who considered her a saint and felt protected by her presence. Bombs did not spare Schio, but the war passed without a single casualty.


Her last years were marked by pain and sickness. She used a wheelchair but she retained her cheerfulness, and if asked how she was, she would always smile and answer: \”As the Master desires.\” In the extremity of her last hours, her mind was driven back to her youth in slavery and she cried out: \”The chains are too tight, loosen them a little, please!\” After a while, she came round again. Someone asked her, \”How are you? Today is Saturday,\” probably hoping that this would cheer her because Saturday is the day of the week dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus. Bakhita replied, \”Yes, I am so happy: Our Lady… Our Lady!\” These were her last audible words.


Bakhita died at 8:10 PM on 8 February 1947. For three days, her body lay in repose while thousands of people arrived to pay their respects. Her remains were translated to the Church of the Holy Family of the Canossian convent of Schio in 1969.

Legacy and canonization
A young student once asked Bakhita: \”What would you do, if you were to meet your captors?\” Without hesitation, she replied: \”If I were to meet those who kidnapped me, and even those who tortured me, I would kneel and kiss their hands. For, if these things had not happened, I would not have been a Christian and a religious today\”.


The petitions for her canonization began immediately, and the process commenced by Pope John XXIII in 1959, twelve years after her death. On 1 December 1978, Pope John Paul II declared Josephine Venerable, the first step towards canonization. On 17 May 1992, she was declared Blessed and given 8 February as her feast day. On 1 October 2000, she was canonized as Saint Josephine Bakhita. She is venerated as a modern African saint, and as a statement against the brutal history of slavery. She has been adopted as the patron saint of modern Sudan and human trafficking survivors. Caritas Bakhita House in London, which provides accommodation and support for women escaping human trafficking, is named in her honour.


Bakhita\’s legacy is that transformation is possible through suffering. Her story of deliverance from physical slavery also symbolises all those who find meaning and inspiration in her life for their own deliverance from spiritual slavery. In May 1992, news of her beatification was banned by Khartoum which Pope John Paul II visited nine months later. On 10 February 1993, he solemnly honoured Bakhita on her own soil. \”Rejoice, all of Africa! Bakhita has come back to you. The daughter of Sudan sold into slavery as a living piece of merchandise and yet still free. Free with the freedom of the saints.\”
Pope Benedict XVI, on 30 November 2007, in the beginning of his second encyclical letter Spe Salvi (\”In Hope We Were Saved\”), relates her life story as an outstanding example of the Christian hope.
Josephine Margaret Bakhita is honored with a Lesser Feast on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, also on 8 February.


Radio Bakhita in South Sudan
Charles Lwanga
Marie-Clémentine Anuarite Nengapeta
Isidore Bakanja
Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi
Charles Lwanga
Benedict Daswa


Bibliography

Catholic Church in South Sudan
The Catholic Church in South Sudan is composed of one ecclesiastical province with one archdiocese and six suffragan dioceses. There have been a total of 31 bishops in South Sudan to date. The bishops of South Sudan and Sudan are currently members of one single bishops\’ conference, designated as Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
Canossa School of Santa Rosa, Laguna
School in Laguna, Philippines
List of venerated persons from Africa
This is a list of saints, blesseds, venerables, and Servants of God from Africa, as recognized by the Catholic Church or other Christian denominations. These people were born, died, or lived their religious life in any of the states or territories of Africa.

Content is available under CC BY-SA 3.0 unless otherwise noted.

St. Francesca Saverio Cabrini, Virgin, Foundress Of The Missionaries

St. Francesca Saverio Cabrini, Virgin, Foundress Of The Missionaries Of The Sacred Heart Of Jesus.

Born Maria Francesca Cabrini in Sant\’Angelo Lodigiano, Lombardy, Italy, on 15 July 1850, she was soon left an orphan. She wanted to enter a convent, but was refused because of her poor health. So she dedicated herself to running an orphanage instead. Soon she graduated as a teacher and, together with some companions, formed the first nucleus of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, under the protection of Saint Francis Xavier. When she eventually pronounced her religious vows, she also took his name.

Her Missionary Vocation

She understood that the modern world would be marked by huge migratory flows and by men, women, and children fleeing their homes to find peace and a better future. This is one of the characteristics of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini that emerges from the reflections of Pope Francis. In a Letter to the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Pope underlines how Saint Frances \”welcomed a special missionary vocation from God: to train and send out consecrated women to the whole world, with a limitless missionary horizon, not simply as auxiliaries of religious institutes or male missionaries, but with their own charism of feminine consecration, in full and total availability for collaboration with both local Churches and the various congregations that were dedicated to the proclamation of the Gospel ad gentes”.

Missionary work and Canonization

It was that missionary charism that brought her to the United States to assist Italian migrants who were seeking their fortune there. In the first of her many ocean crossings, she shared the discomfort, problems, and uncertainties of those who left everything in order to search for a better future elsewhere. Meanwhile, her charitable works continued to include caring for orphans and the sick. She set up homes and hospices in Italy, France, Spain, Great Britain, and all over the United States, Central America, Argentina, and Brazil. Proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius XII on the 7 July 1946, she was proclaimed \”Celestial Patroness of all Emigrants\” in 1950.

St Frances Xavier Cabrini died on 22 December 1917 in the hospital for migrants she herself had built in Chicago. Her mortal remains were later moved to Mother Cabrini High School in New York.

Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church

John of the Cross

Spanish Catholic priest, friar, mystic, and saint.

How did St John of the Cross become a Doctor of the Church?

Beatified in 1675, he was canonized in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII (r. 1724-1730) and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1926 by Pope Pius XI (r. 1922-1939)

St. John the Evangelist is known to be a patron saint of a prolific nature, but he is mainly identified as the patron saint of love, loyalty, friendships, and authors.

John was ordained a priest for the Carmelites in 1567. He loved solitude and contemplation and so considered entering the strictest of Orders, the Carthusians.

Quotes from John of the Cross

The endurance of darkness is the preparation for great light.” “The soul that is quick to turn to speaking and conversing is slow to turn to God.” “It is best to learn to silence the faculties and to cause them to be still so that God may speak.” “Who teaches the soul if not God?”

He was a Spanish mystic and saint.

Doctor of the Church (Latin: doctor \”teacher\”), also referred to as Doctor of the Universal Church (Latin: Doctor Ecclesiae Universalis), is a title given by the Catholic Church to saints recognized as having made a significant contribution to theology or doctrine through their research, study, or writing

Catholic Mystic?

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Christian mysticism refers to the development of mystical practices and theory within Christianity. It has often been connected to mystical theology, especially in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions.

The attributes and means by which Christian mysticism is studied and practiced are varied and range from ecstatic visions of the soul’s mystical union with God to simple prayerful contemplation of Holy Scripture (i.e., Lectio Divina).

Christian Mystics and Movements in the Early Church

  1. Ignatius of Antioch (c. 35-c.107)
  2. St. Polycarp (c.69-c.155)
  3. Justin Martyr (c.105-c.165)
  4. Irenaeus(c.125-c.202)
  5. Tertullian(c.155-c.222)
  6. St. Antony (c.251-356)
  7. Basil the Great (c.330-379)
  8. Augustine(354-430)
  9. St. Gregory I the Great (b. at Rome, c. 540; d. there, 604)

Catholic Mystics in the Mediaeval Church:

  1. William of St.-Thierry (c.1085-1148)
  2. Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153)
  3. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
  4. Hugh of St. Victor, canon regular at Paris (b. in Saxony, 1096; d. at Paris, 1141)
  5. Richard of St. Victor, canon regular at Paris (d. at Paris, 1173)
  6. Francis of Assisi (John Bernardone) (1182-1226)
  7. Albertus Magnus (1206-1280)
  8. Beatrice of Nazareth (1200-1268)
  9. Mechthild of Magdeburg (1207-1282)
  10. Bonaventure (John Fidanza) (1217-1274)
  11. St. Bonaventure, Minister General of the Friars Minor (b. at Bagnorea, 1221; d. at Lyons, 1274)
  12. St. Thomas Aquinas (1224-1275)
  13. Angela of Foligno (c.1248-1309)
  14. St. Gertrude, a Benedictine (b. at Eisleben, 1256; d. at Helfta, Saxony, 1302)
  15. Jan van Ruysbroeck (1293-1381)
  16. Henry Suso (1295-1366)
  17. Johannes Tauler (1300-1361)
  18. Richard Rolle (1300-1349)
  19. Birgitta (Brigida) Suecica of Sweden (1302-1373)
  20. Walter Hilton (d. 1395)
  21. Julian of Norwich (1342-1413?)
  22. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)

Famous Catholic Mystics 15th to 19th Century

  1. St. Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510)
  2. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
  3. St. John of the Cross (Juan de Yepes) (1542-1591)
  4. Venerable Luis de Lapuente (b. at Valladolid, 1554; d. there, 1624)
  5. St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
  6. Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824)
  7. Saint Catherine Labouré  b.1806 d. 1876

Twentieth Century Mystics

  1. Saint Faustina 1905 – 1938
  2. Saint Pio – Padre Pio b.1887

Founder of the contemplative “Order of Poor Ladies” with the help of Francis of Assisi, Clare spent the majority of her life in imitation of Francis and his order, seeking above all else a life of poverty and charity in the Christian mystic tradition. Canonized in 1255, Clare’s devotion to asceticism for herself and her order saw her in conflict with the Catholic Church on more than one occasion; however, she was ultimately praised by the church for her unwavering Catholic spirituality.

In recognizing her mystic qualities, the Catholic Church deemed Clare the patron saint of television in 1958, a title which celebrates her connection to the Holy Spirit, which was said to project a vision of the daily mass on the wall of her room when she was too sick to psychically attend.
In a manner similar to her future mystic mentor, Claire of Assisi grew up a child of a wealthy family in Assisi. However, unlike Francis of Assisi, her ardent commitment to Catholic spirituality and contemplative living was evident at an early age. Perhaps taking after her mother, who was said to be a pious and god-fearing woman, Clare was seen as a young girl to be uninterested in the practices of the world at large, preferring mystic endeavors, such as mortification.
This early desire to imitate the passion of Jesus can be seen as a starting point for her Catholic spirituality and a precursor to her eventual commitment to the life of a mystic.
Soon after these early signs of devotion, Claire’s desire to pursue a contemplative life and achieve a mystic union with God took hold. When she was 18 years old, Clare heard Francis of Assisi preach at a local church. As he spoke, Clare felt the presence of the Holy Spirit burn inside of her. Being greatly inspired by his message, Clare requested that Francis help her grow stronger in her Catholic spirituality. In recognizing the sincerity that accompanied her words, Francis agreed to assist her.
In what was another display of her devotion to the mystic and contemplative lifestyle that lay before her, Clare left her father’s house in secret in order to provisionally join an order of Benedictine nuns. When her father heard of this, he went to the covenant and attempted to physically remove her from the premises. However, Clare resisted, and with seemingly no other options, her father left her in peace. This courageous act further displayed Clare’s commitment to her Catholic spirituality, as she would soon enter into a welcomed life of contemplative living and austerity on her path to achieving a mystic union with God.
As more people began to follow Clare’s example of shunning the world at large in order achieve a mystic union with God, Francis decided that Clare and those who followed her should take on an order of their own. With their stationing by Francis at an adjoining building of the Chapel at San Domino, the contemplative “Order of Poor Ladies” was born. Early on, it was the intention of Clare and her covenant to live in imitation of the mystic order of the Franciscans, which meant a life of poverty and charity.
However, the church at this time felt this was not suitable for women, and as such attempted to deny the right of the order to live a life of poverty. Finding this incompatible with her Catholic spirituality and mystic endeavors, Clare, in a meeting with Pope Gregory XI, remarked that in living in poverty, she was fulfilling her obligation to Jesus Christ. This desire to follow in the mystic and contemplative tradition of the Franciscans inspired the pontiff, and led to the granting of her request.
Towards the end of her life, Clare experienced perhaps her most famous mystic endeavor, as she is said to have thwarted the advance of rival forces intent on terrorizing the chapel simply by lifting a ciborium over her head. This final mystic experience grew Clare’s reputation as a woman of great Catholic spirituality. The heroism displayed in this action solidified Clare as a woman of great and love and devotion, which may be said to be her greatest imitation of the life of Jesus.

Other Catholic Doctors of The Church

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Hildegard von Bingen an eleventh-century Doctor of the Church, depicted by Marshall with a book, the common iconographical attribute for a doctor
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Hildegard von Bingen an eleventh-century Doctor of the Church, depicted by Marshall with a book, the common iconographical attribute for a doctor

As of 2022, the Catholic Church has named 37 Doctors of the Church. Of these, the 18 who died before the Great Schism of 1054 are also held in high esteem by the Eastern Orthodox Church, although it does not use the formal title \”Doctor of the Church\”.

Among the 37 recognised Doctors, 28 are from the West and nine from the East; four are women and thirty-three are men; one abbess, three nuns, one tertiary associated with a religious order; 19 bishops, twelve priests, one deacon; 27 from Europe, three from Africa, and seven from Asia. More Doctors (twelve) lived in the fourth century than any other; eminent Christian writers of the first, second, and third centuries are usually referred to as the Ante-Nicene Fathers. The shortest period between death and nomination was that of Alphonsus Liguori, who died in 1787 and was named a Doctor in 1871 – a period of 84 years; the longest was that of Irenaeus, which took more than eighteen centuries.
Some other churches have similar categories with various names.
Before the 16th century
In the Western church four outstanding \”Fathers of the Church\” attained this honour in the early Middle Ages: Gregory the Great, Ambrose, Augustine of Hippo, and Jerome. The \”four Doctors\” became a commonplace notion among scholastic theologians, and a decree of Boniface VIII (1298) ordering their feasts to be kept as doubles throughout the Latin Church is contained in his sixth book of Decretals (cap. \”Gloriosus\”, de relique. et vener. sanctorum, in Sexto, III, 22).
In the Byzantine Church, three Doctors were pre-eminent: John Chrysostom, Basil the Great, and Gregory of Nazianzus. The feasts of these three saints were made obligatory throughout the Eastern Empire by Leo VI the Wise. A common feast was later instituted in their honour on 30 January, called \”the feast of the three Hierarchs\”. In the Menaea for that day it is related that the three Doctors appeared in a dream to John Mauropous, Bishop of Euchaita, and commanded him to institute a festival in their honour, in order to put a stop to the rivalries of their votaries and panegyrists. This was under Alexius Comnenus (1081–1118; see \”Acta SS.\”, 14 June, under St. Basil, c. xxxviii). But sermons for the feast are attributed in manuscripts to Cosmas Vestitor, who flourished in the tenth century. The three are as common in Eastern art as the four are in Western. Durandus (i, 3) remarks that Doctors should be represented with books in their hands. In the West analogy led to the veneration of four Eastern Doctors, Athanasius of Alexandria being added to the three hierarchs

Meditations: Advent

Listen, Understand, Act Thursday of the First Week of Advent “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.” Matthew 7:24-25 Perhaps one of the hardest things to do in life is to listen. Are you a good listener? Do you know how to listen? Most likely this is a struggle for you since it is a struggle for most people. Listening is more than hearing. Listening implies that one hears AND comprehends. Furthermore, in this Scripture passage, Jesus makes it clear that “listening” is not enough. Once we’ve listened (heard and understood), we must act. Acting on the Word of God involves a total embrace and sur- render to His Word and will. It means you allow the Word of God to dictate your actions and to set your feet “solidly on rock.” The imagery Jesus uses is quite descriptive. A house built on sand is very different than a house built on solid rock. One can only imagine the problems that await a house built on sand. Every storm that comes will cause great anxiety and worry. Fear will always be present as the sandy foundation slowly erodes away. But if the house is on solid rock, there is great confidence in the midst of a storm. Reflect, today, upon the foundation of your life. Advent is a time when we examine whether or not the foundation of our life is Jesus. He entered our world and took on flesh so that He could be that rock foundation. And the path to that rock foun- dation is to listen, comprehend and act. Set your “house” on Him in this way and no storm will erode the foundation of your life. Lord, may your human life become the foundation of my life. May my life be built upon You who are the Rock Foundation. Jesus, I trust in You.

James

James studied theology with Saint John of Capistrano. Ordained in 1420, James began a preaching career that took him all over Italy and through 13 Central and Eastern European countries. This extremely popular preacher converted many people–250,000 at one estimate–and helped spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. His sermons prompted numerous Catholics to reform their lives, and many men joined the Franciscans under his influence.

With John of Capistrano, Albert of Sarteano, and Bernardine of Siena, James is considered one of the “four pillars” of the Observant movement among the Franciscans. These friars became known especially for their preaching.

To combat extremely high interest rates, James established montes pietatis—literally, mountains of charity—nonprofit credit organizations that lent money on pawned objects at very low rates.

Not everyone was happy with the work James did. Twice assassins lost their nerve when they came face to face with him. James died in 1476, and was canonized in 1726.

TO KNOW GOD

God can be known.

It is the clear doctrine of the Scriptures that God can be known. Our Lord teaches that eternal life consists in the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, whom He hath sent. The Psalmist says, “In Judah is God known” (Ps. lxxvi. 1). Isaiah predicts, that “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord” (Is. xi. 9). Paul says even of the heathen, that they knew God, but did not like to retain that knowledge (Rom. i. 19, 20, 21, 28).


A. State of the Question.
It is, however, important distinctly to understand what is meant when it is said, God can be known.

  1. This does not mean that we can know all that is true concerning God. There were some among the ancient philosophers who taught that the nature of God can be as fully understood and determined as any other object of knowledge. The modern speculative school teaches the same doctrine. Among the propositions laid down by Spinoza, we find the following: “Cognitio æternæ et infinitæ essentiæ Dei, quam unaquæque idea involvit, est adæquata et perfecta.”Ethices, ii. prop. xlvi. edit. Jena, 1803, vol. ii. p. 119. Hegel says, that God is, only so far as He is known. The sin against the Holy Ghost, according to Hegel, is to deny that He can be known.See Mansel’s Limits of Religious Thought, Boston, 1859, p. 301. Cousin holds the same doctrine. “God in fact,” he says, “exists to us only in so far as He is known.”Sir William Hamilton’s Discussions, p. 16. Princeton Review on Cousin’s Philosophy, 1856.
    According to Schelling, God is known in his own nature by direct intuition of the higher reason. He assumes that there is in man a power which transcends the limits of the ordinary consciousness (an Anschauungs Vermögen), which takes immediate cognizance of the Infinite. Hegel says that “Man knows God only so far as God knows Himself in man; this knowledge is God’s self-consciousness, but likewise a knowledge of the same by man, and this knowledge of God by man is the knowledge of man by God.”Werke, xii. p. 496, edit. Berlin, 1840. Cousin finds this knowledge in the common consciousness of men. That consciousness includes the knowledge of the Infinite as well as of the finite. We know the one just as we know the other, and we cannot know the one without knowing the other. These philosophers all admit that we could not thus know God unless we were ourselves God. Self-knowledge, with them, is the knowledge of God. Reason in man, according to Cousin, does not belong to his individuality. It is infinite, impersonal, and divine. Our knowledge of God, therefore, is only God knowing Himself. Of course it is in no such sense as this that the Scriptures and the Church teach that God can be known.
    God Inconceivable.
  2. It is not held that God, properly speaking, can be conceived of; that is, we cannot form a mental image of God. “All conception,” says Mr. Mansel,Prolegomena Logica, edit. Boston, 1860, p. 34. “implies imagination.” To have a valid conception of a horse, he adds, we must be able “to combine” the attributes which form “the definition of the animal” into “a representative image.” Conception is defined by Taylor in the same manner, as “the forming or bringing an image or idea into the mind by an effort of the will.” In this sense of the word it must be admitted that the Infinite is not an object of knowledge. We cannot form an image of infinite space, or of infinite duration, or of an infinite whole. To form an image is to limit, to circumscribe. But the infinite is that which is incapable of limitation. It is admitted, therefore, that the infinite God is inconceivable. We can form no representative image of Him in our minds. The word, however, is often, and perhaps commonly, used in a less restricted sense. To conceive is to think. A conception is therefore a thought and not necessarily an image. To say, therefore, that God is conceivable, in common language, is merely to say that He is thinkable. That is, that the thought (or idea) of God involves no contradiction or impossibility. We cannot think of a round square, or that a part is equal to the whole. But we can think that God is infinite and eternal.
    God Incomprehensible.
  3. When it is said that God can be known, it is not meant that He can be comprehended. To comprehend is to have a complete and exhaustive knowledge of an object. It is to understand its nature and its relations. We cannot comprehend force, and specially vital force. We see its effect, but we cannot understand its nature or the mode in which it acts. It would be strange that we should know more of God than of ourselves, or of the most familiar objects of sense. God is past finding out. We cannot understand the Almighty unto perfection. To comprehend is (1.) To know the essence as well as the attributes of an object. (2.) It is to know not some only, but all of its attributes. (3.) To know the relation in which these attributes stand to each other and to the substance to which they belong. (4.) To know the relation in which the object known stands to all other objects. Such knowledge is clearly impossible in a creature, either of itself or of anything out of itself. It is, however, substantially thus that the transcendentalists claim to know God.
    Our Knowledge of God Partial.
  4. It is included in what has been said, that our knowledge of God is partial and inadequate. There is infinitely more in God than we have any idea of; and what we do know, we know imperfectly. We know that God knows; but there is much in his mode of knowing, and in its relation to its objects, which we cannot understand. We know that He acts; but we do not know how He acts, or the relation which his activity bears to time, or things out of Himself. We know that He feels; that He loves, pities, is merciful, is gracious; that He hates sin. But this emotional element of the divine nature is covered with an obscurity as great, but no greater, than that which rests over his thoughts or purposes. Here again our ignorance, or rather, the limitation of our knowledge concerning God, finds a parallel in our ignorance of ourself. There are potentialities in our nature of which, in our present state of existence, we have no idea. And even as to what we are now, we know but little. We know that we perceive, think, and act; we do not know how. It is perfectly inscrutable to us how the mind takes cognizance of matter; how the soul acts on the body, or the body on the mind. But because our knowledge of ourselves is thus partial and imperfect, no sane man would assert that we have no self-knowledge.
    The common doctrine on this subject is clearly expressed by Des Cartes:Epistolæ, I., cx., edit. Amsterdam, 1682. “Sciri potest, Deum esse infinitum et omnipotentem, quanquam anima nostra, utpote finita, id nequeat comprehendere sive concipere; eodem nimirum modo, quo montem manibus tangere possumus, sed non ut arborem, aut aliam quampiam rem brachiis nostris non majorem amplecti: comprehendere enim est cogitatione complecti; ad hoc autem, ut sciamus aliquid, sufficit, ut illud cogitatione attingamus.”
    Even SpinozaEpistola, lx., vol. i. p. 659, edit. Jena, 1802. says: “Ad quæstionem tuam, an de Deo tam claram, quam de triangulo habeam ideam, respondeo affirmando. Non dico, me Deum omnino cognoscere; sed me quædam ejus attributa, non autem omnia, neque maximam intelligere partem, et certum est, plurimorum ignorantiam, quorundam eorum habere notitiam, non impedire. Quum Euclidis elementa addiscerem, primo tres trianguli angulos duobus rectis æquari intelligebam; hancque trianguli proprietatem clare percipiebam, licet multarum aliarum ignarus essem.”
    While, therefore, it is admitted not only that the infinite God is incomprehensible, and that our knowledge of Him is both partial and imperfect; that there is much in God which we do not know at all, and that what we do know, we know very imperfectly; nevertheless our knowledge, as far as it goes, is true knowledge. God really is what we believe Him to be, so far as our idea of Him is determined by the revelation which He has made of Himself in his works, in the constitution of our nature, in his word, and in the person of his Son. To know is simply to have such apprehensions of an object as conform to what that object really is. We know what the word Spirit means. We know what the words infinite, eternal, and immutable, mean. And, therefore, the sublime proposition, pregnant with more truth than was ever compressed in any other sentence, “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and immutable,” conveys to the mind as distinct an idea, and as true (i.e., trustworthy) knowledge, as the proposition “The human soul is a finite spirit.” In this sense God is an object of knowledge. He is not the unknown God, because He is infinite. Knowledge in Him does not cease to be knowledge because it is omniscience; power does not cease to be power because it is omnipotence; any more than space ceases to be space because it is infinite.
    B. How do we know God?
    How does the mind proceed in forming its idea of God? The older theologians answered this question by saying that it is by the way of negation, by the way of eminence, and by the way of causality. That is, we deny to God any limitation; we ascribe to Him every excellence in the highest degree; and we refer to Him as the great First Cause every attribute manifested in his works. We are the children of God, and, therefore, we are like Him. We are, therefore, authorized to ascribe to Him all the attributes of our own nature as rational creatures, without limitation, and to an infinite degree. If we are like God, God is like us. This is the fundamental principle of all religion. This is the principle which Paul assumed in his address to the Athenians (Acts xvii. 29): “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” For the same reason we ought not to think that He is simple being, or a mere abstraction, a name for the moral order of the universe, or the unknown and unknowable cause of all things, — mere inscrutable force. If we are his children, He is our Father, whose image we bear, and of whose nature we partake. This, in the proper sense of the word, is Anthropomorphism, a word much abused, and often used in a bad sense to express the idea that God is altogether such a one as ourselves, a being of like limitations and passions. In the sense, however, just explained, it expresses the doctrine of the Church and of the great mass of mankind. Jacobi“Von den göttlichen Dingen,” Werke, iii. pp. 422, 423, edit. Leipzig, 1816. well says: “We confess, therefore, to an Anthropomorphism inseparable from the conviction that man bears the image of God; and maintain that besides this Anthropomorphism, which has always been called Theism, is nothing but atheism or fetichism.”
    C. Proof that this Method is Trustworthy.
    That this method of forming an idea of God is trustworthy, is proved, —
  5. Because it is a law of nature. Even in the lowest form of fetichism the life of the worshipper is assumed to belong to the object which he worships. The power dreaded is assumed to possess attributes like our own. In like manner under all the forms of polytheism, the gods of the people have been intelligent personal agents. It is only in the schools of philosophy that we find a different method of forming an idea of the Godhead. They have substituted τὸ ὃν for ὁ ὢν, τὸ θεῖον for ὁ Θεός, τὸ ἀγαθόν for ὁ ἀγαθός. It is here as with regard to the knowledge of the external world. The mass of mankind believe that things are what they perceive them to be. This philosophers deny. They affirm that we do not perceive the things themselves, but certain ideas, species, or images of the things; that we have, and can have, no knowledge of what the things themselves really are. So they say we can have no knowledge of what God is; we only know that we are led to think of Him in a certain way, but we are not only not authorized to believe that our idea corresponds to the reality, but, say they, it is certain that God is not what we take Him to be. As the people are right in the one case, so are they in the other. In other words, our conviction that God is what He has revealed Himself to be, rests on the same foundation as our conviction that the external world is what we take it to be. That foundation is the veracity of consciousness, or the trustworthiness of the laws of belief which God has impressed upon our nature. “Invincibility of belief,” according to Sir William Hamilton, “is convertible with the truth of belief,”Philosophy, edit. Wight, New York, 1854, p. 233. although, unhappily, on this subject, he did not adhere to his own principle, “That what is by nature necessarily believed to be, truly is.”Ibid. p. 226. No man has more nobly or more earnestly vindicated this doctrine, which is the foundation of all science and of all faith. “Consciousness,” he says, “once convicted of falsehood, an unconditioned scepticism, in regard to the character of our intellectual being, is the melancholy but only rational result. Any conclusion may now with impunity be drawn against the hopes and the dignity of human nature. Our personality, our immateriality, our moral liberty, have no longer an argument for their defence. ‘Man is the dream of a shadow.’ God is the dream of that dream.”Ibid. p. 234. The only question, therefore, is, Are we invincibly led to think of God as possessing the attributes of our rational nature? This cannot be denied; for universality proves invincibility of belief. And it is a historical fact that men have universally thus thought of God. Even Mr. ManselLimits of Religious Thought, edit. Boston, 1859, pp. 56, 57. exclaims against the transcendentalists, “Fools, to dream that man can escape from himself, that human reason can draw aught but a human portrait of God.” True, he denies the correctness of that portrait; or, at least, he asserts that we cannot know whether it is correct or not. But this is not now the question. He admits that we are forced by the constitution of our nature thus to think of God. And by the fundamental principle of all true philosophy, what we are forced to believe must be true. It is true, therefore, that God really is what we take Him to be, when we ascribe to Him the perfections of our own nature, without limitation, and to an infinite degree.
    Our Moral Nature demands this Idea of God.
  6. It has already been shown, when speaking of the moral argument for the existence of God, that all men are conscious of their accountability to a being superior to themselves, who knows what they are and what they do, and who has the will and purpose to reward or punish men according to their works. The God, therefore, who is revealed to us in our nature, is a God who knows, and wills, and acts; who rewards and punishes. That is, He is a person; an intelligent, voluntary agent, endowed with moral attributes. This revelation of God must be true. It must make known to us what God really is, or our nature is a lie. All this Mr. Mansel, who holds that God can not be known, admits. He admits that a sense of dependence on a superior power is “a fact of the inner consciousness;” that this superior power is “not an inexorable fate, or immutable law, but a Being having at least so far the attributes of personality, that He can show favour or severity to those dependent upon Him, and can be regarded by them with the feelings of hope, and fear, and reverence, and gratitude.”Limits of Religious Thought, etc., p. 120. No man, however, is, or can be grateful to the sun, or to the atmosphere, or to unintelligent force. Gratitude is a tribute of a person to a person. Again, the same author admits that “the moral reason, or will, or conscience of man, call it by what name we please, can have no authority save as implanted in him by some higher spiritual Being, as a law emanating from a law-giver.”Ibid. p. 121. “We are thus compelled,” he says, “by the consciousness of moral obligation, to assume the existence of a moral [and of course of a personal] Deity, and to regard the absolute standard of right and wrong as constituted by the nature of that Deity.”Ibid. p. 122. Our argument from these facts is, that if our moral nature compels us to believe that God is a person, He must be a person, and consequently that we arrive at a true knowledge of God by attributing to Him the perfections of our own nature.
    Our Religious Nature makes the same Demand.
  7. The argument from our religious, as distinct from our moral nature, is essentially the same. Morality is not all of religion. The one is as much a law and necessity of our nature as the other. To worship, in the religious sense of the word, is to ascribe infinite perfection to its object. It is to express to that object out acknowledgments for the blessings we enjoy, and to seek their continuance; it is to confess, and praise, and pray, and to adore. We cannot worship the law of gravity, or unconscious force, or the mere order of the universe. Our religious nature, in demanding an object of supreme reverence, love, and confidence, demands a personal God, a God clothed with the attributes of a nature like our own; who can hear our confessions, praises, and prayers; who can love, and be loved; who can supply our wants, and fill all our capacities for good. Thus again it appears that unless our whole nature is a contradiction and a falsehood, we arrive at a true knowledge of God when we ascribe to Him the perfections of our own nature.
    Mr. Mansel admits that our nature does demand a personal and moral Deity; but, he says, “the very conception of a moral nature is in itself the conception of a limit, for morality is the compliance with a law; and a law, whether imposed from within or from without, can only be conceived to operate by limiting the range of possible actions.”Limits of Religious Thought, etc., p. 127. In like manner he says, “The only human conception of personality is that of limitation.” Therefore, if God be infinite, he can neither be a person, nor possess moral attributes. This is the argument of Strauss, and of all other pantheists, against the doctrine of a personal God. Mr. Mansel admits the force of the argument, and says we must renounce all hope of knowing what God is, and be content with “regulative knowledge,” which teaches not what God really is, but what He wills us to think Him to be. We are thus forbidden to trust to our necessary beliefs. We must not regard as true what God by the constitution of our nature forces us to believe. This is to subvert all philosophy and all religion, and to destroy the difference between the rational and the irrational. Why is this contradiction between reason and conscience, between our rational and moral nature, assumed to exist? Simply because philosophers choose to give such a definition of morality and personality that neither can be predicated of an infinite Being. It is not true that either morality or personality imply any limitation inconsistent with absolute perfection. We do not limit God when we say He cannot be irrational as well as rational, unconscious as well as conscious, finite as well as infinite, evil as well as good. The only limitation admitted is the negation of imperfection. Reason is not limited when we say it cannot be unreason; or spirit, when we say that it is not matter; or light, when we say it is not darkness; or space, when we say it is not time. We do not, therefore, limit the Infinite, when we exalt Him in our conceptions from the unconscious to the conscious, from the unintelligent to the intelligent, from an impersonal something to the absolutely perfect personal Jehovah. All these difficulties arise from confounding the ideas of infinite and all.
  8. The fourth argument on this subject is, that if we are not justified in referring to God the attributes of our own nature, then we have no God. The only alternative is anthropomorphism (in this sense) or Atheism. An unknown God, a God of whose nature and of whose relation to us we know nothing, to us is nothing. It is a historical fact that those who reject this method of forming our idea of God, who deny that we are to refer to Him the perfections of our own nature, have become atheists. They take the word “spirit,” and strip from it consciousness, intelligence, will, and morality; and the residue, which is blank nothing, they call God. Hamilton and Mansel take refuge from this dreadful conclusion in faith. They say that reason forbids the ascription of these, or of any other attributes, to the Infinite and Absolute, but that faith protests against this conclusion of the reason. Such protest, however, is of no account, unless it be rational. When Kant proved that there was no rational evidence of the existence of God, and fell back from the speculative to the practical reason (i.e., from reason to faith), his followers universally gave up all faith in a personal God. No man can believe in the impossible. And if reason pronounces that it is impossible that the Infinite should be a person, faith in His personality is an impossibility. This Mr. Mansel does not admit. For while he says that it is a contradiction to affirm the Infinite to be a person, or to possess moral attributes, he nevertheless says that, “Anthropomorphism is the indispensable condition of all human theology;”Limits of Religious Thought, etc., p. 261. and he quotes from Kant“Kritik der Praktischen Vernunft.” Works, edit. Rosenkranz, vol. viii. p. 282. this passage: “We may confidently challenge all natural theology to name a single distinctive attribute of the Deity, whether denoting intelligence or will, which, apart from anthropomorphism, is anything more than a mere word, to which not the slightest notion can be attached, which can serve to extend our theoretical knowledge.” It is greatly to be lamented that men should teach that the only way in which it is possible for us to form an idea of God, leads to no true knowledge. It does not teach us what God is, but what we are forced against reason to think He is.
    Argument from the Revelation of God in Nature.
  9. A fifth argument is from the fact that the works of God manifest a nature like our own. It is a sound principle that we must refer to a cause the attributes necessary to account for its effects. If the effects manifest intelligence, will, power, and moral excellence, these attributes must belong to the cause. As, therefore, the works of God are a revelation of all these attributes on a most stupendous scale, they must belong to God in an infinite degree. This is only saying that the revelation made of God in the external world agrees with the revelation which He has made of himself in the constitution of our own nature. In other words, it proves that the image of himself which He has enstamped on our nature is a true likeness.
    Argument from Scripture.
  10. The Scriptures declare God to be just what we are led to think He is, when we ascribe to Him the perfections of our own nature in an infinite degree. We are self-conscious, so is God. We are spirits, so is He. We are voluntary agents, so is God. We have a moral nature, miserably defaced indeed, God has moral excellence in infinite perfection. We are persons, so is God. All this the Scriptures declare to be true. The great primal revelation of God is as the “I am,” the personal God. All the names and titles given to Him; all the attributes ascribed to Him; all the works attributed to Him, are revelations of what He truly is. He is the Elohim, the Mighty One, the Holy One, the Omnipresent Spirit; He is the creator, the preserver, the governor of all things. He is our Father. He is the hearer of prayer; the giver of all good. He feeds the young ravens. He clothes the flowers of the field. He is Love. He so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him might not perish but have everlasting life. He is merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth. He is a present help in every time of need; a refuge, a high tower, an exceeding great reward. The relations in which, according to the Scriptures, we stand to God, are such as we can sustain only to a being who is like ourselves. He is our ruler, and father, with whom we can commune. His favour is our life, his loving-kindness better than life. This sublime revelation of God in his own nature and in his relation to us is not a delusion. It is not mere regulative truth, or it would be a deceit and mockery. It makes God known to us as He really is. We therefore know God, although no creature can understand the Almighty unto perfection.
    Argument from the Manifestation of God in Christ.
  11. Finally, God has revealed Himself in the person of his Son. No man knoweth the Father but the Son; and he to whom the Son shall reveal Him. Jesus Christ is the true God. The revelation which He made of Himself was the manifestation of God. He and the Father are one. The words of Christ were the words of God. The works of Christ were the works of God. The love, mercy, tenderness, the forgiving grace, as well as the holiness, the severity and power manifested by Christ, were all manifestations of what God truly is. We see, therefore, as with our own eyes, what God is. We know that although infinite and absolute, He can think, act, and will; that He can love and hate; that He can hear prayer and forgive sins, that we can have fellowship with Him, as one person can commune with another. Philosophy must veil her face in the presence of Jesus Christ, as God manifest in the flesh. She may not presume in that presence to say that God is not, and is not known to be, what Christ himself most clearly was. This doctrine that God is the object of certain and true knowledge lies at the foundation of all religion, and therefore must never be given up.

CATHOLIC THEOLOGIANS AND DOCTORS OF THE CHURCH | HISTORY

List of Catholic philosophers and theologians

This is a list of Catholic philosophers and theologians whose Catholicism is important to their works. The names are ordered by date of birth in order to give a rough sense of influence between thinkers.

Ancient (born before 500 AD)

Ignatius of Antioch (c. 35/50 – between 98 and 110)
Papias of Hierapolis (c. 60 – c. 163)
Polycarp of Smyrna (c. 69 – c. 155)
Justin Martyr (100–165)
Irenaeus (130–202)
Clement of Rome (died 99)
Clement of Alexandria (150–215)
Tertullian (155–222)
Origen of Alexandria (184–253)
Cyprian of Carthage (200–258)
Aphrahat (270–345)
Athanasius of Alexandria (296–373)
Hillary of Poitiers (300–368)
Ephrem the Syrian (306–373)
Basil of Caesarea (329–379)
Gregory Nazianzus (329–390)
Gregory of Nyssa (335–395)
Ambrose (340–397)
Jerome (347–420)
John Chrysostom (347–407)
Augustine of Hippo (354–430)
Cyril of Alexandria (378–444)
Isaac of Antioch (451–452)
Boethius (477–524)

Early Medieval (born between 500 AD and 1100 AD)

Pope Gregory I (540-604)
Isadore of Seville (560-636)
Maximus the Confessor (580-662)
Bede (672/3-735)
John of Damascus (675/6-749)
Radbertus (785-865)
John Scotus Eriugena (800-877)
Anselm of Canterbury (1033/4-1109)
Peter Abelard (1079-1142)
Adelard of Bath (1080-1152)
Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)
Peter Lombard (1096-1160)
Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)

High Medieval (born between 1100 AD and 1450 AD)

Robert Grosseteste (1175-1253)
Francis of Assisi (1181/2-1226)
Alexander of Hales (1185-1245)
Albertus Magnus (1193-1280)
Henry of Ghent (1217-1293)
Roger Bacon (1219/20-1292)
Bonaventure (1221-1274)
Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
Ramon Llull (1232-1315)
Giles of Rome (1243-1316)
Godfrey of Fontaines (1250-1306/9)
James of Viterbo (1255-1307)
Gertrude of Helfta (1256-1302)
Meister Eckhart (1260-1328)
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)
John Duns Scotus (1266-1308)
William of Alnwick (1275-1333)
William of Ockham (1287-1347)
William of Ware (1290-1305)
Henry Suso (1295-1366)
Jean Buridan (1300-1358/61)
Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373)
Albert of Saxony (1320-1390)
Nicole Oresme (1325-1382)
Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)
Jean Gerson (1363-1429)
John Capreolus (1380-1444)
Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464)

Renaissance and Early Modern (born between 1450 AD and 1750 AD)


Sylvester Mazzolini (1456/7-1527)
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494)
Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)
John Mair (1467-1550)
Thomas Cajetan (1469-1534)
Francesco Silvestri (1474-1528)
Thomas More (1478-1535)
John Fisher (1469-1535)
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543)
Francisco de Vitoria (1483-1546)
Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556)
Peter Faber (1506-1546)
Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582)
Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)
Domingo Báñez (1528-1604)
Franciscus Patricius (1529-1597)
Luis de Molina (1535-1600)
John of the Cross (1542-1591)
Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621)
Justus Lipsius (1547-1606)
Francisco Suárez (1548-1617)
Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619)
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
Péter Pázmány (1570-1637)
John of St. Thomas (John Poinsot) (1589-1644)
Michael Wadding (1591-1644)
René Descartes (1596-1650)
Matthias Tanner (1630-1692)
Nicolas Malebranche (1638-1715)
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
Noel Alexandre (1639-1724)
Giambattista Vico (1668-1744)
Giovanni Battista Scaramelli (1687-1752)
Peter Dens (1690-1775)
Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787)
Febronius (Johann Nikolaus von Hontheim) (1701-1790)

Doctor of the Church (Latin: doctor \”teacher\”), also referred to as Doctor of the Universal Church (Latin: Doctor Ecclesiae Universalis), is a title given by the Catholic Church to saints recognized as having made a significant contribution to theology or doctrine through their research, study, or writing.

Christian writers [Doctors of The Church] of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd centuries are usually referred to as the Ante-Nicene Fathers

Fathers of the Church attained this honour in the early Middle Ages: Gregory the Great, Ambrose, Augustine of Hippo, and Jerome. The \”four Doctors\” became a commonplace notion among scholastic theologians, and a decree of Boniface VIII (1298) ordering their feasts to be kept as doubles throughout the Latin Church is contained in his sixth book of Decretals (cap. \”Gloriosus\”, de relique. et vener. sanctorum, in Sexto, III, 22).

In the Byzantine Church, three Doctors were pre-eminent: John Chrysostom, Basil the Great, and Gregory of Nazianzus. The feasts of these three saints were made obligatory throughout the Eastern Empire by Leo VI the Wise. A common feast was later instituted in their honour on 30 January, called \”the feast of the three Hierarchs\”. In the Menaea for that day it is related that the three Doctors appeared in a dream to John Mauropous, Bishop of Euchaita, and commanded him to institute a festival in their honour, in order to put a stop to the rivalries of their votaries and panegyrists. This was under Alexius Comnenus (1081–1118; see \”Acta SS.\”, 14 June, under St. Basil, c. xxxviii). But sermons for the feast are attributed in manuscripts to Cosmas Vestitor, who flourished in the tenth century. The three are as common in Eastern art as the four are in Western. Durandus remarks that Doctors should be represented with books in their hands. In the West analogy led to the veneration of four Eastern Doctors, Athanasius of Alexandria being added to the three hierarchs.

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The Four Great Doctors of the Western Church were often depicted in art, here by Pier Francesco Sacchi, c. 1516. From the left: Saint Augustine, Pope Gregory I, Saint Jerome, and Saint Ambrose, with their Cultural attributes.

The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were ancient and influential Christian theologians and writers who established the intellectual and doctrinal foundations of Christianity. The historical period in which they worked became known as the Patristic Era and spans approximately from the late 1st to mid-8th centuries, flourishing in particular during the 4th and 5th centuries, when Christianity was in the process of establishing itself as the state church of the Roman Empire

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The Church Fathers, an 11th-century Kievan Rus\’ miniature from Svyatoslav\’s Miscellany

In traditional religious theology, authors considered Church Fathers are treated as authoritative, and a somewhat restrictive definition is used. The academic field of patristics, the study of the Church Fathers, has extended the scope of the term, and there is no definitive list. Some, such as Origen and Tertullian, made major contributions to the development of later Christian theology, but certain elements of their teaching were later condemned.

Great Fathers

In the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church traditions there are four Fathers each who are called the \”Great Church Fathers”. In the Catholic Church, they are collectively called the \”Eight Doctors of the Church\”

Western Church
Ambrose (A.D. 340–397)
Jerome (347–420)
Augustine of Hippo (354–430)
Pope Gregory I (540–604)
Eastern Church
Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 296 or 298 – 373)
Gregory of Nazianzus (329 – c. 390)
Basil of Caesarea (c. 330 – 379)
John Chrysostom (347–407)
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, three of them (Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus and John Chrysostom) are honored as the \”Three Holy Hierarchs\”.

Apostolic Fathers

Main article: Apostolic Fathers
The Apostolic Fathers were Christian theologians who lived in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, who are believed to have personally known some of the Twelve Apostles, or to have been significantly influenced by them. Their writings, though popular in Early Christianity, were ultimately not included in the canon of the New Testament once it reached its final form. Many of the writings derive from the same time period and geographical location as other works of early Christian literature that did come to be part of the New Testament, and some of the writings found among the Apostolic Fathers\’ seem to have been just as highly regarded as some of the writings that became the New Testament. The first three, Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp, are considered the chief ones.

Clement of Rome

Pope Clement I
The First Epistle of Clement (c. 96), is the earliest extant epistle from a Church Father. In the epistle, Clement calls on the Christians of Corinth to maintain harmony and order.

Copied and widely read in the Early Church, First Clement had been considered by some as part of the New Testament canon, e.g., listed as canonical in Canon 85 of the Canons of the Apostles, among other early canons of the New Testament, showing that it had canonical rank in at least some regions of early Christendom. As late as the 14th century Ibn Khaldun mentions it as part of the New Testament.

Ignatius of Antioch

Ignatius of Antioch
Ignatius of Antioch (also known as Theophorus) (c. 35 – c. 110) was the third bishop of Antioch and a student of the Apostle John. En route to his martyrdom in Rome, Ignatius wrote a series of letters which have been preserved. Important topics addressed in these letters include ecclesiology, the sacraments, the role of bishops, and the Incarnation of Christ. Specifically, concerning ecclesiology, his letter to the Romans is often cited as a testament to the universal bounds of the Roman church. He is the second after Clement to mention Paul\’s epistles.

Polycarp of Smyrna

Polycarp
Polycarp of Smyrna (c. 69 – c. 155) was a Christian bishop of Smyrna (now İzmir in Turkey). It is recorded that he had been a disciple of \”John\”. The options/possibilities for this John are John, the son of Zebedee, traditionally viewed as the author of the Gospel of John, or John the Presbyter. Traditional advocates follow Eusebius of Caesarea in insisting that the apostolic connection of Polycarp was with John the Evangelist and that he was the author of the Gospel of John, and thus the Apostle John.

Polycarp tried and failed to persuade Pope Anicetus to have the West celebrate Passover on the 14th of Nisan, as in the Eastern calendar. Around A.D. 155, the Smyrnans of his town demanded Polycarp\’s execution as a Christian, and he died a martyr. The story of his martyrdom describes how the fire built around him would not burn him, and that when he was stabbed to death, so much blood issued from his body that it quenched the flames around him. Polycarp is recognized as a saint in both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.

Papias of Hierapolis

Papias of Hierapolis
Very little is known of Papias apart from what can be inferred from his own writings. He is described as \”an ancient man who was a hearer of John and a companion of Polycarp\” by Polycarp\’s disciple Irenaeus (c. 180). Eusebius adds that Papias was Bishop of Hierapolis around the time of Ignatius of Antioch. In this office, Papias was presumably succeeded by Abercius of Hierapolis. The name Papias was very common in the region, suggesting that he was probably a native of the area. The work of Papias is dated by most modern scholars to about A.D. 95–120.

Despite indications that the work of Papias was still extant in the Late Middle Ages, the full text is now lost; however, extracts appear in a number of other writings, some of which cite a book number.

Alexandrian (Egypt) Fathers

Those who wrote in Greek are called the Greek (Church) Fathers. In addition to the Apostolic Fathers, famous Greek Fathers include: Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Lyons, Clement of Alexandria, Athanasius of Alexandria, John Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria, the Cappadocian Fathers (Basil of Caesarea, Gregory Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa), Peter of Sebaste, Maximus the Confessor, and John of Damascus

Modern Church: In the Western Catholic Church, the patristic era is believed to have passed and The The Eastern Orthodox Church does not consider the age of Church Fathers to be over.

Orthodox view is that men do not have to agree on every detail, much less be infallible, to be considered Church Fathers; whereas after the Nicene councils the new church of the west decided that the Father of the church is infallible [inability to be wrong; even if he is]

NICENE: [Root word meaning) From 14c., \”of or pertaining to Nicaea (Greek Nikaia, modern Turkish Isnik), city in Bithynia where an ecclesiastical council of 325 C.E. dealt with the Arian schism and produced the Nicene Creed. A second council held there (787) considered the question of images. The name is from Greek nikaios \”victorious,\” from nikē \”victory\” (see Nike) greek goddess Nike Athena

Nike: literally \”upper hand\” (in battle, in wars, and in civil court) connected with neikos \”quarrel, strife,\” neikein \”to quarrel with,\” As the name of a type of U.S. defensive surface-to-air missiles, attested from 1952. The brand of athletic shoes and apparel, based near Portland, Oregon, has been so known since 1971, named for the Greek goddess, having been founded in 1964 as Blue Ribbon sport.

Nicaea: Nicaea or Nicea (/naɪˈsiːə/; Greek: Νίκαια, Níkaia) was an ancient Greek city in northwestern Anatolia and is primarily known as the site of the First and Second Councils of Nicaea (the first and seventh Ecumenical councils in the early history of the Christian Church), the Nicene Creed (which comes from the First Council), and as the capital city of the Empire of Nicaea following the Fourth Crusade in 1204, until the recapture of Constantinople by the Byzantines in 1261.

325 AD

First Council of Nicaea, (325), the first ecumenical council of the Christian church, meeting in ancient Nicaea (now İznik, Turkey). It was called by the emperor Constantine I, an unbaptized catechumen, who presided over the opening session and took part in the discussions.

Meeting at Nicaea in present-day Turkey, the council established the equality of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the Holy Trinity and asserted that only the Son became incarnate as Jesus Christ. The Arian leaders were subsequently banished from their churches for heresy.

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GOD- THE FATHER MASCULINE

GOD-THE SON OF GOD HOLY SEED

GOD- THE HOLY SPIRIT FEMINE

The son, was born of the Holy Spirit, thus making him true a God. Without sin as he was made by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary The Mother of God the Incarnate Word (Logos) gave birth to The Son Incarnate Word (Logos) by The Almighty Father (Supreme Logos)

He took on the flesh of Mankind, as Did His Mother as Mother of God, so that The Word could be revealed through them. And The New Covenant could be made, by the last sacrifice- one in which closed the chapter for the old not taking away one dot or tittle, from the laws of God, but to establish the Children of God that would then be made. As Christs Children. Although, through the passion after the 3rd day, he was risen into his ascension to His Father, to sit at His right hand, where he says he was from the beginning. (Before Abraham WAS, I AM) – he sits on the judgment seat, until the fullness of the righteous are complete and then he’s coming with the Sword. Not to bring peace, but to punish those who has done abominations against the Word (Logos) those who choose not to do the physical and spiritual works that was instructed of us. The ones who have done them to the T (Tee), according to how they are and firmly established will gain eternal life, granted new bodies made in the image of the one The Son of God was in. As ascension calls for the bodies to be of a higher spiritual essence. (haven’t you read; YE are Gods, Gods Children) —Psalm 82. Thus says the Lord, Ye are gods and children of the Most High. If we are gods, as children of God, then we should act like this. But, if we take away the divinity of us as children and that of His Son and Mother, then we go against the Commandment that says: Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” (Ex. 20:12) – this commandment wasn’t just for our Earthly Parents, but our Heavenly Ones as well.

What the Nicene Council above, thought to create was a newer thought: different from all ancient culture and knowledge: they believe—

All are equal and that There’s ONLY one God, The Father and his only begotten Son, and He was Born through the immaculate conception which shows his divinity, but only half, so he’s not technically a full God, only God the Father is God. And The Holy Spirit is God as The Fathers Spirit that is in them all. Which makes the trinity. But, since The Son in this case would be half flesh of a Mother as a Human and not divine, he suffers and is condemned then raised up and then will come again to judge the living and the dead. And in the second coming he will lift those up and condemn the rest, and those he lifts up they don’t have to keep all the laws and commandments because they have been saved by grace and not by their physical and spiritual works to deserve it.

Similar stories, but one seems to gain the prize without the hard work to suffer the gain. And the other suffered until the end, for fear (respect) of their Creator. By making all 3 (1) entity instead of Gods (3) —3 as Gods Family— they have made the perfect imperfect by imperfecting the original Word of God.

Which in John 1:1 says:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Seems very clear that The Word is Gods Son, seated on the Right Side, and The Word his Son was God. (A God, because His Father is God (A God) & The Holy Spirit His Mother (A God)

Commandment 3 \”Therefore I say to you, every blasphemy said from the mouths of wicked men will be forgiven, but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Wisdom) will not be forgiven of men who do this\” (Matthew 12:31).

[Jesus speaking] —Like do whatever you want, but never speak against My Mother [Blessed are you Mary The Mother of All.

Please check out the book of Wisdom books 1-19 https://bible.usccb.org/bible/wisdom/1

Last thing to consider: Is a Man a Woman? And is a Woman a Man? Or is a Child of them their equal? Or is there some kind of hierarchy to the Family Unit? Not based on demeaning behavior or what being the Head of the Son or Wife they don’t honor, but the true nature of the roles one of Honor. Is The Father a Mother? Or a Mother a Father or a Child both their parents Mother and Father? Wouldn’t that create some type of problem if there’s no one to answer to for the repercussions of actions? If everyone’s the parent, then who does what when? Is this order or chaos? Asking ourselves by our real life experiences do we find ourselves wondering which of the two paths we find to be more righteous in building moral character and charitable nature? And which seeks death? By the unrighteous acts to never to be condemned?