Sunday, October 18, 2020

A Brief Introduction to the Iconography of St. Teresa of Avila as Doctrix Ecclesia

From Liturgical Arts Journal:

It might be shocking to some (in particular those outside of the Hispanic world) to come upon an image of St Teresa wearing the biretta, which generally considered an exclusive item of clerical vesture. We must nevertheless remember that the biretta is the common ancestor of today’s varied academic headdress, including the iconic mortarboard used throughout the English-speaking world.

The characteristically Spanish stiff 4-horned biretta did not fully develop until the 17th century, which at this time is restricted to ecclesiastical, academic and judiciary circles. A code was developed to denote each of the main disciplines taught in university using the tufts and mozzettas worn: white for theology, red for law, yellow for Medicine and blue for philosophy, etc.

It was Pope Paul VI who in 1970 finally granted the Title of Doctor of the Church to St Teresa, finally answering a request that was first elevated in 1597 by all the cathedral chapters of Spain to Pope Clement VIII. The petition had been repeatedly denied by Rome dryly arguing Obstat sexus (her sex prevents it).

The devotion of the Spanish people was too great to be contained, and while the title of doctor of the church could not be used, this did not stop her receiving other titles such as doctrix seraphica or doctrix mystica.  (Read more.)

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