Spain Studies How to Celebrate New Doctor of the Church

Bishops Consider Pilgrimage to Recognize St. John of Avila

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MONTILLA, Spain, SEPT. 21, 2011 ( The bishops of Spain are preparing the groundwork to celebrate a native son being named the 34th doctor of the Church.

Benedict XVI announced Aug. 20 that the patron of Spanish diocesan clergy, St. John of Avila, would receive the status of doctor.

St. John of Avila — not to be confused with St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila’s partner in reforming the Carmelites — is known as the Apostle of Andalusia. He was declared patron of the Spanish secular clergy in 1946 by Pius XII; he was canonized by Paul VI in 1970.

A committee of the Spanish Episcopal Conference met Tuesday with the bishops of the dioceses where the saint was born and died, as well as others close to the cause.

The meeting was a brainstorming session to determine how best to welcome and celebrate the declaration.

Bishop Demetrio Fernandéz of Cordoba (the diocese in which John of Avila died, and where his relics rest), thanked the city’s mayor for his presence and said that he was «convinced that everything possible would be done so that the people would increasingly receive this great personage who will give a universal name to the city of Montilla.» John of Avila died May 10, 1569, in Montilla.

The prelate deferred to the Spanish Episcopal Conference regarding the details of how the declaration will be celebrated.

«It is thought that a great pilgrimage to Rome will take place for priests, seminarians and faithful,» he reported. «There will also be many activities in Montilla, but nothing has been decided yet; everything is being planned.»

Bishop Fernandéz added that even the date is unknown, since it depends on the Pope. But, he assured, «we will prepare ourselves in the best possible way so that this pilgrimage to Rome is absolutely full, as this saint deserves.»

Finally, the bishop expressed the hope that soon St. John of Avila will be declared in Montilla an «Adopted Son of the City,» although this is an honor that requires its own processes.

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