Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How is someone declared a saint?




Declaring someone a saint is a process that takes years. But what's actually involved?

Each canonization includes a long process that's divided in several phases. The first one is carried out by the local diocese of the candidate.

SILVIA CORREALE
Postulator
"This includes writing and gathering the testimonies of those who directly knew the person. So documents, letters and declarations that shed light on the candidate's grace.”

The information is then sent to the Vatican, where it's reviewed by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. If approved, the candidate is declared a Servant of God.

The next step is analyzing whether the candidate manifested heroic virtues that reflect the Gospel. If so, the person is recognized as 'Venerable.'

CARD. JOSÉ SARAIVA MARTINS
Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
"When someone is declared as having heroic virtues, it's based on the way he or she lived. For example, those who leave everything behind to head out on mission. This is obvious heroism.”

The next step is being declared a Blessed. For that to happen a miracle needs to be attributed to the candidate. It's a process that involves scientists, doctors and theologians. All of whom will look into the validity of the miracle.

CARD. JOSÉ SARAIVA MARTINS
Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
"One miracle is needed for the beatification to happen.  Yet another for the canonization. This last miracle needs to happen after the beatification ceremony. Unless the person is a martyrin that case a miracle is not necessary.”

When that happens, on behalf of the Pope, a prefect from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints can celebrate the beatification ceremony, in a location that's relevant to candidate's life. From that point on the Blessed can be venerated.

So the last stage is to prove that a second miracle took place after the beatification ceremony. If that is approved, then the candidate can be declared a saint.

Finally, the entire process comes to a close with a canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square, where the candidate is declared a Saint of the Catholic Church.

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