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Blessed John Duns Scotus

"John the Scot", Champion of the Immaculate Virgin Mary

Public Domain

Franciscan Priest and Theologian – (1266-1308)

His life

+ John “the Scot” was born in Scotland and entered the Franciscan Order in 1280. He later studied theology at Oxford. Following his ordination in 1291, he taught at Oxford, Paris, and Cologne.

+ John’s philosophy had a great impact on Franciscan thought during the Middle Ages. His commentaries and other writings reveal that he ws a holy man who tried to offer new insights into the mysteries of God and the Church.

+ Honored as a genuine “scholastic,” he was strong defender of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, becoming the first important theologian to promote this teaching.

+ Blessed John, who is called the “Minstrel of the Incarnate Word,” died on November 8, 1308. He was beatified in 1993.

Worth knowing

Despite his influence as a philosopher and theologian, John Duns Scotus had many theological opponents, particularly among those thinkers who embraced the ideas of Saint Thomas Aquinas. In the sixteenth century these critics created a new name for the followers of Duns Scotus: dunce. This word is still used today to describe someone incapable of real scholarship.


“Although Duns Scotus was aware that in fact, because of original sin, Christ redeemed us with his Passion, Death and Resurrection, he reaffirmed that the Incarnation is the greatest and most beautiful work of the entire history of salvation.”—Pope Benedict XVI


Lord God, source of all wisdom,

in Blessed John Duns Scotus,

priest and champion of the Immaculate Virgin,

you have given us a master of life and thought.

Grant that,

Enlightened by his example and nourished by his doctrine,

We may remain faithful followers of Christ,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(from The Franciscan Proper of Saints)

Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.

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