Humanities › History & Culture Women Saints: Female Doctors of the Church Female Doctors of the Church: Why So Few? Share Flipboard Email Print Women Doctors of the Church. Image credits, from upper left clockwise: Fine Art Images / Heritage Images / Getty Images, The Print Collector / Print Collector / Getty Images, Whiteway / Getty Imagesm Fine Art Images / Heritage Images / Getty Images History & Culture Women's History Important Figures History Of Feminism Key Events Women's Suffrage Women & War Laws & Womens Rights Feminism & Pop Culture Feminist Texts American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century View More By Jone Johnson Lewis Women's History Writer B.A., Mundelein College M.Div., Meadville/Lombard Theological School Jone Johnson Lewis is a women's history writer who has been involved with the women's movement since the late 1960s. She is a former faculty member of the Humanist Institute. our editorial process Jone Johnson Lewis Updated January 31, 2018 "Doctor of the Church" is a title given to those whose writings are deemed to be in accord with the doctrine of the church and which the church believes can be used as teachings. "Doctor" in this sense is related etymologically to the word "doctrine." There's some irony in this title for these women, as the church has long used words of Paul as an argument against ordination of women: Paul's words are often interpreted to forbid women from teaching in the church, even though there are other examples (such as Prisca) of women mentioned in teaching roles. "As in all the congregations of the Lord’s people. Women should remain silent in the churches, They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church." 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 (NIV) Doctor of the Church: Catherine of Siena Painting: The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine of Siena, by Lorenzo d'Alessandro about 1490-95. (Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images) One of two women declared to be Doctors of the Church in 1970, Catherine of Siena (1347 - 1380) was a Dominican tertiary. She is credited with persuading the Pope to return to Rome from Avignon. Catherine lived from March 25, 1347 to April 29, 1380, and was canonized by Pope Pius II in 1461. Her Feast Day is now April 29, and was celebrated from 1628 until 1960 on April 30. Doctor of the Church: Teresa of Avila St. Theresa of Avila, in an 1886 illustration from Butler's Lives of the Saints. (The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images) One of two women declared to be Doctors of the Church in 1970, Teresa of Avila (1515 - 1582) was the founder of the order known as the Discalced Carmelites. Her writings are credited with inspiring church reforms. Teresa lived from March 28, 1515 - October 4, 1582. Her beatification, under Pope Paul V, was on April 24, 1614. She was canonized on March 12, 1622, by Pope Gregory XV. Her Feast Day is celebrated on October 15. Doctor of the Church: Térèse of Lisieux (Ented/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0) A third woman was added as Doctor of the Church in 1997: Saint Térèse of Lisieux. Térèse, like Teresa of Avila, was a Carmelite nun. Lourdes is the largest pilgrimage site in France, and the Basilica of Lisieux is second largest. She lived from January 2, 1873 to September 30, 1897. She was beatified on April 29, 1923, by Pope Pius XI, and canonized by the same Pope on May 17, 1925. Her Feast Day is October 1; it was celebrated on October 3 from 1927 until 1969. Doctor of the Church: Hildegard of Bingen Hildegard receies a vision; with secretary Volmar and confidante Richardis. Fine Art Images / Heritage Images / Getty Images In October, 2012, Pope Benedict named German saint Hildegard of Bingen, a Benedictine abbess and mystic, a "Renaissance woman" long before the Renaissance, as the fourth woman among the Doctors of the Church. She was born in in 1098 and died on September 17, 1179. Pope Benedict XVI oversaw her canonization on May 10, 2012. Her Feast Day is September 17.