How Does One Become a Saint?
NOTE: All credit for the following text goes to the Mother
Teresa Cause website at
What is a Saint?
A saint is a disciple of Jesus Christ, who lived a life of extraordinary
fidelity to the Lord. Saints are people who in this life were so
united to Jesus Christ that with His help they strove to do the will
of the Father in everything, devoting themselves to the glory
of God and to the service of their neighbor. Saints give us shining
examples of all the virtues, including: faith, hope, and love both of God
and every human being; prudence (or practical wisdom), justice, fortitude
(or courage), and temperance (or self-mastery); detachment, purity, and
obedience; humility, simplicity and magnanimity. Each saint is noteworthy
for certain particular virtues. For this reason, the Church proposes them
to its members as friends and companions in the following of Christ, as models
to imitate, and as intercessors with God.
What is the meaning of Beatification?
The canonization of a saint is a solemn act by which the Pope, the supreme
authority in the Catholic Church, declares that a person practiced heroic
virtue and lived in fidelity to Gods grace, is with God in heaven and
is to be venerated throughout the whole Church. The Pope enrolls the person
on the list of Saints. Another word for list is canon, hence
the term canonization. The expression, raised to the
altars, often used as an equivalent of canonization, means
that the person is assigned a feast day in the yearly schedule of the
Churchs liturgical celebrations. This assigning of a feast day is done
at the time of beatification.
Beatification is a step in the process of canonization. By it the Pope allows
public veneration of the person in the local Church, within the religious
congregation with which he or she was associated, and in other places by
those who receive such permission. Note the difference: a Saint should be
honored in liturgical celebrations by the universal, that is, the whole Church,
whereas a Blessed may be so honored in certain places.
The aim of the work before beatification is to establish as accurately as
possible the historic facts of the candidates life, to demonstrate
the way the candidate practiced the Christian virtues, and to show that the
members of the Church, that is, the faithful, consider him or
her to be holy and, therefore, worthy of veneration.
This process has two stages. The first stage, the Diocesan Phase, is the
responsibility of the local church where the candidate lived. This phase,
under the authority of the local bishop and assisted by a Postulator, focuses
on gathering information - collecting documents and interviewing witnesses
on the life, virtues, and reputation of sanctity of the candidate
for canonization. Once the Diocesan Phase opens, the candidate may be referred
to as a Servant of God.
The second stage is the Roman Phase. The findings of the local church are
transferred to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints [CCS], an
office of the Vatican, for study and evaluation. This work is done by the
Postulator under the supervision of an official of the CCS. After study by
a panel of theologians and a commission of cardinals and bishops, the CCS
presents its findings to the Pope for his judgment.
When the Pope affirms that the Servant of God indeed lived a heroic Christian
life, he or she is then called the Venerable Servant of God.
Upon the approval of a miracle attributed to the persons intercession,
the beatification ceremony may be held.
A miracle is an extraordinary event, which is scientifically inexplicable
and, in a cause for canonization, is directly attributable to the intercession
of the Servant of God. In the causes of saints, the miracles investigated
are usually cures, because they are more easily documented. Miracles and
graces or favours, granted after prayers to the Servant of God, serve as
evidence that God Himself is the origin of that persons reputation
of holiness. A miracle is a sign of divine approval. Miracles confirm that
it is God who has aroused in the faithful the opinion that a particular Servant
of God is worthy of canonization.
An event proposed as a miracle is subjected to a thorough scientific
investigation by experts. For beatification one authentic miracle must be
recognized as obtained through the intercession of the Servant of God.
From Blessed to Saint
A Servant of God who is beatified is called Blessed. The Blessed
may be canonized after the occurrence of one more miracle attributed to his
or her intercession.
The Purpose of Canonization
By honouring its children who lived as heroes of faith and love, the Church
recognizes the power of the Holy Spirit within her. Saints give us joy; their
example sustains our hope; and their friendship increases our love and union
with God and with each other. A canonization is a way of giving thanks to
God as we honor the person who has been so faithful to Gods plan in
his or her life.
 CCC 2156 quoted in Dobbs
 Cf. LG 40 §2
(Credit: "The Meaning of Beatification." Cause of Canonization
of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. 15 June 2003