Great Teachers

Pope details how greatest teachers of faith persevered through greatest tribulations

HUNTINGTON, Indiana, March 25, 2011 – The greatest teachers of the Catholic Faith lived in times just like our own, which Pope Benedict XVI demonstrates in his new book, Great Teachers (Our Sunday Visitor, 2011, 128 pp, hardback). They provided people – including misdirected clergy and religious – much-needed direction in times fraught with scandal and strife, and guided the Church through pervasive confusion and discouragement to renewal and strength.

Among some 12 saints, abbots, and theologians profiled for their stalwart faith and appreciation for Gospel truth, Great Teachers focuses on two 13th-century saints – St. Francis of Assisi (founder of the Franciscans) and St. Dominic Guzman (founder of the Dominicans). Both were convicted by personal holiness to make the case for a return to Gospel poverty, deeper Church unity, and renewed evangelization – especially throughout the European university system.

It is a strangely similar scenario to the one the Church finds herself in today.

A commonality among the great teachers in Benedict’s book is their agreement on Truth, which the faithful tend to drift from in times of plenty, trendy relativism, and ‘distraction.’

Even the great St. Francis of Assisi was tempted to enjoy his carefree worldly lifestyle. But after an illness, he experienced a spiritual conversion which eventually led him to abandon that way of life. Christ Himself – in three mystical experiences to Francis as he was praying before a crucifix – told him, “Go, Francis, and repair My Church in ruins.” The pope goes on to clarify in the book, “At that time, the Church had a superficial faith which did not shape or transform life, a scarcely zealous clergy, and a chilling of love … Yet there at the center of the Church in ruins was the crucified Lord, and he spoke: he called for renewal.”

Renewal hinges on Truth, however, and people's disposition to see and live by it.

“Truth is sought with humility, received with wonder and gratitude,” says the pope. “Knowledge only grows if one loves truth. Love becomes intelligence, and authentic theology – wisdom of the heart, which directs and sustains the Faith and life of believers.”

Additional chapter-profiles in Great Teachers include St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Bonaventure, St. Albert the Great, among others.

St. Thomas Aquinas, whose greatest achievement was showing a natural harmony exists between Christian faith and reason, likewise received affirmation from the Lord while praying before a crucifix in St. Nicholas chapel in Naples, Italy one morning. Thomas anxiously asked the Lord whether his writings on the mysteries of the Christian faith were correct. The church sacristan overheard the conversation, in which the Crucified One replied, “You have spoken well of me, Thomas. What is your reward to be?” And the answer Thomas gave him was, “Nothing but Yourself, Lord!”

In a culture that focuses more on ‘having’ than ‘being,’ Great Teachers resuscitates the examples of those who chose to teach truth and simplicity, in and out of season.

“To renew the Church in every age, God raises up saints, who themselves have been renewed by God and are in constant contact with God,” says Pope Benedict XVI.

As a select English-language publisher of Pope Benedict XVI’s books, Our Sunday Visitor offers some 10 titles by the pope. For media interviews on this and others by the Holy Father, Our Sunday Visitor president and publisher, Gregory Erlandson, can be available by appointment. Please contact publicist, Christine V. Owsik, to arrange an interview call 215-230-8095 or email


The world’s largest English-language Catholic publisher, Our Sunday Visitor serves millions of Catholics globally through its publishing, offertory, and communication services. Established in 1912, Our Sunday Visitor has grown into the largest supplier of offering envelopes, parish and diocesan mailings, books, periodicals, curriculum, address management, and stewardship services. Our Sunday Visitor is a not-for-profit organization, returning a portion of net earnings back to the Catholic community through the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.  For more information, visit