Wikatechesis™ - Canonization of Saints


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

One Catholic website states that “There are over 10,000 named saints and beati from history, the Roman Martyology and Orthodox sources, but no definitive head count”.[5] The Catholic Church teaches that it does not, in fact, make anyone a saint. Rather, it recognizes a saint.[6] In the Church, the title of Saint refers to a person who has been formally canonized (officially recognised) by the Catholic Church, and is therefore believed by this church to be in Heaven.

Rev. Alban Butler, published Lives of the Saints in 1756, containing 1,486 saints. The work, edited by Father Herbert Thurston, S.J. and British Author Donald Attwater, contains the lives of 2,565 saints.[7]

Also, by this definition there are many Catholics believed to be in Heaven who have not been formally declared as saints (most typically due to their obscurity and the involved process of formal canonization) but who may nevertheless generically be referred to as saints. All in Heaven are, in the technical sense, saints, since they are believed to be completely purified and holy.[8] Unofficial devotions to uncanonized individuals take place in certain regions.[9] Sometimes the word “saint” is used to refer to Catholics still sojourning here on earth.[10]

In his book, Saint of the Day, editor Leonard Foley, OFM, says this of saints: “[Saints'] surrender to God’s love was so generous an approach to the total surrender of Jesus that the Church recognizes them as heroes and heroines worthy to be held up for our inspiration. They remind us that the Church is holy, can never stop being holy and is called to show the holiness of God by living the life of Christ.” [11]

In the Catholic Church, some persons bear the stigmata, interpreted as the wounds of the Crucifixion and Passion of Jesus Christ, given as a sign of extreme holiness or sainthood.[12] St. Francis of Assisi is the most notable example of a saint bearing the stigmata in Catholicism.[13]The abbreviation for the title ‘Saint’ is usually the contraction “St”.

In his book, Making Saints: How the Catholic Church Determines Who Becomes a Saint, Who Doesn’t and Why, author Kenneth Woodward notes the following:

A saint is always someone through whom we catch a glimpse of what God is like — and of what we are called to be. Only God ‘makes’ saints, of course. The church merely identifies from time to time a few of these for emulation. The church then tells the story. But the author is the Source of the grace by which saints live. And there we have it: A saint is someone whose story God tells.[14]

The veneration of saints, in Latin, cultus, or the “cult of the saints”, describes a particular popular devotion to the saints. Although the term “worship” is often used, it is intended in the old-sense meaning to honor or give respect (dulia). Divine Worship is properly reserved only for God (latria) and never to the saints.[15] They can be asked to intercede or pray for those still on earth,[16] just as one can ask someone on earth to pray for them.

A saint may be designated as a patron saint of a particular cause or profession, or invoked against specific illnesses or disasters, sometimes by popular custom and sometimes by official statements of the Magisterium.[17] Saints are not thought to have power of their own, but only that granted by God. Relics of saints are respected in a similar manner to holy images and icons. The practices of past centuries in venerating relics of saints for healing is taken from the early Church.[18]

Recently, for example, a man from the United States claimed in 2000 that Venerable John Henry Newman interceded with God to cure him. The American, Jack Sullivan, asserted that after addressing Newman he was cured of spinal stenosis in a matter of hours. In 2009, a panel of theologians of late concluded that Sullivan’s recovery was the result of his prayer to Newman. According to the Catholic Church, to be deemed a miracle, “a medical recovery must be instantaneous, not attributable to treatment, disappear for good.”[19]

Once a person has been declared a saint, the body of the saint is considered holy.[20] The remains of saints are called holy relics and are usually used in churches. The saints’ personal belongings may also be used as relics.[20] Some of the saints have a symbol that represents their life.

In Church tradition, a person that is seen as exceptionally holy can be declared a saint by a formal process, called canonization. Formal canonization is a lengthy process often taking many years, even centuries.[21]

The first step in this process is an investigation of the candidate’s life, undertaken by an expert. After this, the report on the candidate is given to the bishop of the area and more studying is done. It is then sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome.[22]

If the application is approved, the person may be granted the title of “Venerable”.[22] Further investigations may lead to the candidate’s beatification and given title of “Blessed.”[22] At a minimum, two important miracles are required to be formally declared a saint. These miracles must be posthumous. [22] Finally, when all of this is done the Pope canonizes the saint.[22]

^ Hawley, John Stratton, ed. Saints and Virtues, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987. p. 239
^ Coleman, John A. S.J. “Conclusion: after sainthood”, in Hawley, John Stratton, ed. Saints and Virtues Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987. pp 214-217
^ Hawley, John Stratton, ed. Saints and Virtues Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987. page 239
^ Babb, Lawrence A. “Sathya Sai Baba’s Saintly Play”, in Hawley, John Stratton, ed. Saints and Virtues Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987. pp 168-170
^ All About Saints at Catholic Online (USA) FAQs- Saints and Angels
^ The Catechism of the Catholic Church From the Knights of Columbus website
^ http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,862347,00.html
^ What is a saint? Vatican Information Service, 29 July 1997
^ Folk_saint from Citizendium
^ Catechism of the Catholic Church (Second Edition)
^ Saint of the Day edited by Leonard Foley, OFM, (Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2003), xvi. ISBN 0-86716-535-9
^ Stigmata at Catholic Online (USA)
^ St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Encyclopedia on New Advent.org
^ Kenneth Woodward, Making Saints: How the Catholic Church Determines Who Becomes a Saint, Who Doesn’t and Why (New York: Touchstone/Simon and Shuster, 1996) ISBN 0743200292
^ Scully, Teresita Do Catholics Worship Mary? on American Catholic.org
^ The Intercession of the Saints on Catholic.com
^ Patron Saints from Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) on Wikisource.org
^ Acts 19:11-12
^ Jenna Russell, “Marshfield man’s prayer an answer in sainthood query,” The Boston Globe April 28, 2009, B1,4.
^ a b Relics Catholic Encyclopedia on NewAdvent.org
^ Table of the Canonizations during the Pontificate of His Holiness John Paul II on Vatican.va
^ a b c d e How Stuff Works (349)

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Chad Simpson (397 Posts)

Chad is a Catholic blogger living in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex who focuses on exposing the distortions, half-truths, and outright heresies of the liberal media. He adheres to the Magisterial teachings of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. He and his wife home school their three children and attend the Novus Ordo mass in Latin whenever possible.

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