The Pulpit - Doctors of the Church


The Doctors of the Church, designed by Ford Madox Brown and William Morris, painted by George Campfield

The pulpit was first commissioned in 1862, but the panels showing the four doctors were not included until 1873 because of the opposition of Archbishop Thompson, who thought that they were too popish.

Who are the “Doctors of the Church”?

The four doctors of the church St Augustine of Hippo St Gregory the Great St Ambrose St Jerome

The feasts of the four original Doctors of the Church (from left to right) are celebrated during the second half of the year: St. Augustine on August 28, St. Gregory the Great on September 3, St. Jerome on September 30, and St. Ambrose on December 7.

The Doctors of the Church, in Latin Doctores Ecclesiae, are a special class of canonized saints that have distinguished themselves with lives of particular virtue and holiness; as theologians, they possess extraordinary intellect and insight that has enabled them to make monumental contributions to the understanding of the faith through their preaching or writing; and they have been designated as such by a Pope or an ecumenical council.

The four great doctors of the West are Augustine, Gregory the Great, Jerome, and Ambrose; while the four great doctors of the East are John Chrysostom, Basil the Great, Gregory Nazianzen, and Athanasius.

The Original Latin Doctors are considered the doctors par excellence:

St. Augustine of Hippo, 13 November 354 – 28 August 430, the Doctor of Grace, wrote Confessions, The City of God, a rule of life, Scripture commentaries, and numerous books on theological topics.

St. Gregory the Great, c. 540 – 12 March 604, was a fierce defender of the papacy and a liturgical reformer. He wrote Pastoral Care, a guidebook for bishops, The Dialogue, Moralia, and volumes of homilies and commentaries.

St. Jerome, c.  347 – 30 September 420, is the father of biblical studies, the translator of the Bible from Hebrew and Greek to Latin, the Vulgate.

St. Ambrose, c. 340 – 4 April 397, was a fierce defender of the faith against the Arian heresy, a charismatic preacher, a prolific writer, and the inspiration behind the Ambrosian liturgy.