Today’s saint was born in Duns, county of Berwick, Scotland. The “Scotus” in his name is a derivation of “Scotia,” the Latin name for his native land.
John received the habit of the Friars Minor at Dumfries, where his uncle Elias Duns was superior. After novitiate, John studied at Oxford and Paris and was ordained in 1291. More studies in Paris followed until 1297, when he returned to lecture at Oxford and Cambridge. Four years later, he returned to Paris to teach and complete the requirements for the doctorate.
A student and proponent of Aquinas, Aristotle and Muslim philosophers, he also recognized the richness of Augustinian and Franciscan traditions. This led John to be an independent thinker, and in 1303 was run out of France by Kink Philip the Fair for refusing to take his side in a royal dispute with the Papacy.
He defended his free will through convincing philosophical arguments. In one such defense he posed to his students that if he started beating someone who denied free will, the person would immediately tell him to stop. But if Scotus didn’t really have a free will, how could he stop?
After his exile to Oxford, Scotus was able to return to Paris and finally received his doctorate in 1305. He became renown in 1307 for his defense of the Immaculate Conception. Not only did the university adopt his position, much later in 1854, Pope Pius IX would use the precepts of that position on his own definition of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
Later in 1307, John Duns Scotus was assigned to the Franciscan school of Cologne where e he died in 1308. He was beatified in 1993.
Adapted by A.J. Valentini