Pope bestows rare honour on Spanish saint
Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday he will bestow an extremely rare honour on a Spanish saint, Saint John of Avila, by proclaiming him a doctor of the Church.
Only 33 doctors of the Church -- reserved for figures of eminent doctrine and remarkable holiness -- have been proclaimed since 1295, and the last was in 1997.
"I will shortly declare Saint John of Avila a doctor of the universal Church," the 84-year-old pontiff said in Madrid's Almudena Cathedral, prompting thunderous applause from 6,000 young people preparing to be priests.
"I would hope that the word and the example of this outstanding pastor will enlighten all priests and those who look forward to the day of their priestly ordination," the pope said after celebrating mass.
The decision will be formalised within months by the pope issuing an apostolic letter.
Saint John of Avila, son of converted Jews, lived from 1500 to 1569.
Born in Almovodar del Campo near Toledo in central Spain, he studied law in Salamanca before being ordained a priest. He was a mystic and powerful preacher of the Counter-Reformation who drew huge crowds with his condemnations of the pursuit of riches.
He was canonized in 1970.
Benedict said his decision followed requests by Madrid's archbishop, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, and others bishops and archbishops around the world.
The last doctor of the Church to be proclaimed was a French saint, 19th century Carmelite Theresa of Lisieux, announced by John Paul II during World Youth Day celebrations in Paris in 1997.
© 2011 AFP