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3 Lessons from Thursday’s news out of the Vatican

Updated: Mar 15, 2022

Faith Notes – a new doctor of the Church – St. Irenaeus of Lyons

Pope Francis just did something the vast majority of Popes have never done. He named a saint a doctor of the Church. In all of the history of the Church, there are only 36 doctors. “Doctor” is an honorary term that points to a saint’s extraordinary teaching that has influenced the thinking of the Church.

St. Irenaeus will be declared a doctor of the Church. Pope Francis announced this on Thursday. He does this, saying that he will be called the “doctor unitatis,” or “doctor of unity.” St. Irenaeus of Lyons was a second-century bishop and the first doctor to be also a martyr. His book Adversus Haereses is one of the first theological reflections on the faith.

The name “Irenaeus” means peace, and Pope Francis hopes that naming him a doctor of the Church will help to bring peace to the Church. We are all on a path to God, and he can be a willing guide. Always wanting to establish peace, he also stayed firm in his principles and for this was rewarded with the martyr’s crown.

What are the lessons we are supposed to learn? Real quickly, we can see three.

Doctor of unity

He is being named the doctor of unity. We live in a world that is divided and shattered. Pope Francis is reminding us we need to stick together, fulfilling the wish of Jesus at the Last Supper: may they be one.

Peaceful power

His very name means “peace” in Greek. In a world torn apart by strife, Pope Francis is reminding us of the importance of peace.


He is the first martyr to be declared a doctor of the Church. His witness to the faith was crowned with the sacrifice of his life.

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