Pope to Preside Over Opening Mass for Synod

Sts. Hildegard of Bingen and John of Avila to be Honored by Pontiff

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By Ann Schneible

ROME, SEPT. 28, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See announced today that Pope Benedict XVI will preside at the Solemn Mass for the opening of the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, during which the Holy Father will proclaim two new Doctors of the Church: Saint John of Avila and Saint Hildegard of Bingen.

Joining the ranks of Saint Therese of Avila, Saint Catherine of Sienna, and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, German mystic Saint Hildegard of Bingen, canonized this past May, will be the fourth woman in Church history to be declared Doctor of the Church. Born circa 1098 in County Palatine of the Rhine (a region in modern-day Germany), she was a Benedictine abbess known for her visions, which she began to receive at the age of three. Hildegard was also known for her contribution to medieval music, having composed dozens of original pieces throughout her lifetime. She died Sept. 17, 1179.

Saint John of Avila, canonized in 1970 by Pope Pius VI, was born May 10, 1500, to a wealthy Catholic family of Jewish descent in Almodòvar del Campo, Spain. He was known for his preaching and for his reform of clerical life in his native country. Included among his followers were Saint Francis Borgia, and fellow Doctors of the Church, Saints John of God and Teresa of Avila. He died in Seville on May 10, 1569.

A doctor of the Church is one whose writings have proved to be of particular value to the life of the Church, especially in the area of theology and Doctrine. For a saint to be named «doctor of the Church» these three conditions must be present: eminens doctrina (eminent learning), insignis vitae sanctitas (high degree of sanctity), and Ecclesiae declaration (proclamation by the Church).

Pope Benedict will concelebrate the General Assembly’s opening Mass on October 7 with the Synod Fathers, and with Bishops from the Spanish and German Episcopal Conferences.

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