Who are Doctors of the Catholic Church, and why are they ideal Patron Saints for business vocations?
Do we mean medical doctors? No, although there is nothing to preclude a medical doctor from becoming a future Doctor of the Church! Is it the same as the 'Church Fathers'? No, although several of the Doctors of the Church are also ‘Church Fathers’ – those early Christian intellectuals and theologians whose writings are authoritative in Church Doctrine.
Currently, there are thirty-seven Doctors of the Catholic Church and more may be named if they meet the following criteria: 1) Great holiness beyond already being declared a saint, 2) Depth in doctrinal insights, elucidated and shared through their writings and teachings, and which are authentic expressions of Catholic Tradition, and 3) Officially declared a Doctor of the Church by papal proclamation.
St. Isidore of Seville, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Hildegard of Bingen, and St. Francis de Sales are recognized as Doctors of the Catholic Church who relate in a particular way to the laity; they are ideal to ask for intercessory prayers as Patron Saints of business vocations.
St. Isidore of Seville is the Patron Saint of computer technology, the Internet, those involved in education, teaching or administration, those engaged in representative government and those who defend the faith (apologists). He is an example of saints growing in clusters like grapes; two of his brothers and his sister are saints! He was known as the ‘greatest teacher in Spain’ due to his encyclopedia of knowledge and his desire to share information as widely and freely as possible. As a Bishop, he worked to establish a representative form of governance while helping to dispel the heresy of Arianism. He was born in 560 and died in 636; his feast day is April 4th. Pope Innocent XIII formally declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1722. A famous quote from his writings: “When we pray, we talk to God; when we read, God talks to us.”
St. Catherine of Siena is the Patron Saint of nurses, those subject to ridicule, and for organizations and communities in political turmoil. A lay Catholic of the Third Order of Dominicans, she was named a Doctor of the Church in 1970 by St. Pope Paul VI because of the wisdom which showed forth in her writings, her ability to reason with Popes and her heart of service for those who were ill or on the margins of society. She was born in 1347 and died in 1380; her feast day is April 29th. Three famous quotes from her writings: 1) “What is it you want to change? Your hair, your face, your body? Why? For God is in love with all those things and he might weep when they are gone.” 2) “If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire!” 3) “Speak the truth in a million voices. It is silence that kills.”
St. Hildegard of Bingen is a polymath and the Patron Saint of a wide diversity of vocations categorized into three areas: a) Artists, musicians, writers, and poets; b) Natural sciences, ecology, and gardening; c) Herbal medicine, healing, well-being, nutrition, and chefs. She was a Benedictine nun, abbess, mystic, prolific writer, artist, musician and endowed with an inquiring mind and appreciation of nature; she applied early versions of the scientific method – even somewhat notably for understanding the role of hops in making beer! She knew popes and emperors and felt free to speak her mind to them from time to time! She was born in 1098 and died in 1179. She was not canonized, however, until 2012, and then also declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI. Her feast day is September 17th. A quote from St. Hildegard makes us think twice about virtual reality and AI: “We cannot live in a world that is not our own, in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a home. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening, to use our own voice, to see our own light.”
St. Francis de Sales is the Patron Saint of writers, journalists, those with disabilities (particularly deafness) and those involved in adult education and catechesis. Born in Switzerland, he studied in Paris and Padua to become a lawyer. After becoming a priest, he used his talents to bring more than 40,000 people into the Catholic Church during the Protestant Reformation. Whether writing pamphlets to slide under the doors to share the faith with those in need of conversion or writing letters of spiritual guidance, St. Francis helped lay the groundwork for the 'universal call to holiness' and restore the perception of the sanctity of the laity in alignment with the teachings of Christ. He was born in 1567 and died in 1622; his feast day is January 24th. He was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius IX in 1877. In the “Introduction to the Devout Life,” St. Francis de Sales gives guidance to lay people for growing in holiness while living daily life in the secular world:
Imitate a little child, whom one sees holding tight with one hand to its father, while with the other it gathers strawberries or blackberries from the wayside hedge. Even so, while you gather and use this world’s goods with one hand, always let the other be fast in your Heavenly Father’s hand and look round from time to time to make sure that He is satisfied with what you are doing, at home or abroad. Beware of letting go, under the idea of making or receiving more—if He forsakes you, you will fall to the ground at the first step. When your ordinary work or business is not specially engrossing, let your heart be fixed more on God than on it; and if the work be such as to require your undivided attention, then pause from time to time and look to God, even as navigators who make for the haven they would attain, by looking up at the heavens rather than down upon the deeps on which they sail. So doing, God will work with you, in you, and for you, and your work will be blessed.
Stay tuned for future articles as we explore more Patron Saints, or 'Saints-in-the-making' (in the process of Canonization), as candidates for intercessory prayers for lay Catholics.
And join us in praying for the success of The Hour of the Laity: A Lay Catholic Conference (THL2023), November 2-5, Christ Cathedral, Orange County, CA. THL2023 is a national gathering for all lay Catholics who seek to grow as leaders to influence civil society with positive, healthy values grounded in truth and faith. It provides Catholic leadership formation to strengthen and enable the laity to become ambassadors of Christ in our day-to-day lives and the secular world! All experts, panelists, and keynotes are lay people who positively impact society and are sound examples of authentic lay Catholic leadership. We pray for continued growth in holiness and success in business ventures for all who attend.
St. Isidore of Seville, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Hildegard of Bingen, and St. Francis de Sales, pray for us.
The Patron Saints Series is sponsored by our friends at Catholic Prayer Cards.
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