Pope Benedict XVI has named two new "doctors" of the church, conferring the Catholic Church's highest honor on a 16th-century Spanish preacher and a 12th — century German mystic who wasn't even officially recognized as a saint until earlier this year.

St. John of Avila, Spain, and St. Hildegard of Bingen, Germany, join the ranks of only 33 other church doctors who have been singled out over the course of Christianity for their contributions to and influence on Catholic doctrine.

Benedict named them doctors Sunday at the start of a Mass in St. Peter's Square that kicked off a two-week meeting of the world's bishops to chart the church's new evangelization mission. The synod coincides with the 50th anniversary of Vatican II.

The last church doctor named was St. Therese of Lisieux, France, in 1997.