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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Doctors of the Church


MASTER of the Isaac Stories
(active 1290s)
The Doctors of the Church
1290-95
Fresco
Upper Church, San Francesco, Assisi



MASTER of the Isaac Stories (active 1290s)
The Doctors of the Church (detail of St Jerome)
1290-95
Fresco
Upper Church, San Francesco, Assisi




There are depicted in the vaults above the High Altar of the Upper Church, San Francesco, Assisi the four Doctors of Church together with their scribes: in the south (at the top of the illustration) St Augustine and opposite him, St Ambrose; in the east (to the left) St Jerome, and in the west St Gregory

The tradition of naming doctors of the church began with Venerable Bede (d. 735), who described Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Gregory as "significant interpreters" of the Gospel of Luke.

The official designation "doctor of the church" came into official use only centuries later, in 1295, when Boniface VIII instructed that the title be used of these "Latin doctors" in liturgical celebrations.

A decree of Boniface VIII ordered their feasts to be kept as doubles in the whole Church is contained in his sixth book of Decretals (cap. "Gloriosus", de relique. et vener. sanctorum, in Sexto, III, 22).

Accordigly the depictions in Assisi are amongst the first "official" depictions of the Four Doctors.

Both Upper and Lower churches were consecrated by Pope Innocent IV in 1253. As Pope Nicholas IV, had raised the church to the status of papal church in 1288, the depictions are noteworthy