Pope Benedict announced yesterday that St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen will be named Doctors of the Church:
[T]he Pope announced that on 7 October, at the start of the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, he will proclaim St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen as Doctors of the Universal Church. “These two great witnesses of the faith lived in very different historical periods and cultural environments”, he said. “Hildegard was a Benedictine nun during the height of the German Middle Ages, a true master of theology and a great scholar of the natural sciences and of music. John was a young diocesan priest of the Spanish Renaissance, who participated in the travails of the cultural and spiritual renewal of the Church and society at the dawn of the Modern Age”.
The sanctity of their lives and the profundity of their doctrine mean that these two saints “retain all their importance. The grace of the Holy Spirit enabled them to experience profound understanding of divine revelation and intelligent dialogue with the world, two factors which represent the perennial goal of the life and activity of the Church”.
St. John and St. Hildegard are particularly significant on the eve of the forthcoming Year of Faith, and in light of the new evangelisation to which the Synod of Bishops will be dedicating its attention. “Also in our own day, and through their teaching, the Spirit of the risen Lord continues to make His voice heard and to illuminate the path which leads to the Truth, which is the only thing that can make us free and give full meaning to our lives”, the Pope said.
I have a particular interest in St. Hildegard; indeed, I’m presenting on her treatment of Paul in the Scivias at the Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting in the fall in (of all things) a feminist section dedicated to the recovery of female interpreters, supposedly suppressed. (Funny how the suppressed often attain sainthood.) Last fall I wrote a piece for FT for her feast day, September 17; a version of it is here, reposted when Benedict recently removed all doubt regarding her sainthood and extended her cult to the universal Church.