Extraordinary Influencers: Women Doctors of the Church
Four models of holiness overcame societal prejudices against females to influence Catholicism and the world
The four women who are recognized as doctors of the Church belong to a small, elite group. To date, thirty-seven saints have been honored as doctors. Church doctors are saints with a significant body of theological work and whose doctrinal writings have special authority. Theology grows out of concrete life experience, so different lives produce various, unique “flavors.”
Here, we will examine the historical context in which each woman lived to show how it might have affected her, give biographical highlights and discuss the overarching themes of her work.
St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179)
If you worked in human resources and received a resume listing Hildegard’s accomplishments, you might think the writer was delusional or bragging: abbess, artist, author, composer, pharmacist, poet, preacher, theologian, Germany’s greatest mystic, scientist, doctor, and political critic. In Hildegard’s case, they were all true. She influenced theology, medicine, the study of nature, cosmology, the human condition, and the world at-large.
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