Birth 1266- died 1308 A humble man, John Duns Scotus has been one of the most influential Franciscans through the centuries. Born at Duns in the county of Berwick, Scotland, John was descended from a wealthy farming family. In later years was identified as John Duns Scotus to indicate the land of his birth. John received the habit of the Friars Minor at Dumfries , where his uncle Elias Duns was superior. After his 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 . In an age when many people adopted whole systems of thought without qualification, John pointed out the richness of the Augustinian -Franciscan tradition , appreciated the wisdom of Aquinas, Aristotle and the Muslims philosophers-and still managed to be an independent thinker. That quality was proven in1303 when King Philip the Fair tried to enlist the University of Paris on his side in a dispute with Pope Boniface VIII. John Duns Scotus dissented and was given three days to leave France. In Scotus’s time ,some philosophers , held that people are basically determined by forces outside themselves. Free will is an illusion, they argued. An ever practical man ,Scotus said that if he started beating someone who denied free will, the person would immediately tell him to stop. But if he didn’t have a free will, how could he stop? John had a knack for finding illustrations his Students could remember. One of his important teachings was the Primacy of Christ in all things and the belief that even if there had been no sin ,the Incarnation would have taken place. God is love by His very essence, not merely because He created the universe. Love has its own reason in itself, it is always self – explanatory and God’s love is the reason of all else. in the first place God knows himself and loves himself in Divine Essence. The Divine Life is sealed in the procession of the Holy Spirit who is Personal Love. Secondly God loves himself in others and this divine love tends to bubble over. Thirdly God wills to be loved by another who can love him perfectly as he is in himself. i.e. God wills to have co-lovers and it is in Jesus that God finds this Perfect Love. Christ would have been born even if there had been no sin. After a short stay in Oxford John returned to Paris, where he received his doctorate in 1305. He continued teaching there and in 1307 so ably defended the Immaculate Conception of Mary that the university officially adopted his position. That same year the minister general assigned him to the Franciscan school in Cologne where John died in 1308. He is buried in the Franciscan church near the famous Cologne cathedral. Drawing on the work of John Duns Scotus , Pope Pius IX solemnly defined the Immaculate Conception of Mary in 1854. John Duns Scotus , the “Subtle Doctor,” was beatified in 1993 by Pope John Paul II.