Random Fun Facts: Becoming a Saint

Random Fun Facts:  Becoming a Saint

God shows to men, in a vivid way, His presence and His face in the lives of those companions of ours in the human condition who are more perfectly transformed in the image of Christ. He speaks to us in them and offers us a sign of this kingdom to which we are powerfully attracted, so great a cloud of witnesses is there given and such a witness to the truth of the Gospel. It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek rather that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened.  ~  Vatican II  (Lumen Gentium No. 50)

Giotto di Bondone St Francis & St Clare 1279-1300 Aunt Heather Piper
Saint Francis & Saint Clare a Fresco by Giotto di Bondone 1279-1300

With the dual canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II, Pope & Saints it got me thinking, 'How exactly does one become a saint?', not that I am in the running for that honor, and certainly not a candidate, but merely an interested party.

With my roots strongly planted in the Catholic faith, (I'm no expert on religion nor am I the poster child for a perfect Catholic specimen)  I know some popular qualifications, but never the entire process.  The canonization of these Popes two Sunday's ago sparked my curiosity.

Over the years, I've had others ask me the very same thing.  Ashamed, I did not know the entire answer, I thought it was about time I did.  Through a little bit of reading and reviewing, this is what I've found.  Exactly how true it is, I'm not really sure, but some of my sources are legit and some of it sounds familiar, like it has been taught to me before.

Apparently, the process of canonization was established in 1234 by Pope Gregory IX.  Prior to that time, saints were honored upon their deathbeds, usually due to martyrdom.  Over the years, since some were falsely honored with the prestigious title of saint, but did not quite live up to the standards and were only done so through hearsay and legend, a standard process needed to be established.  Way to to Pope Gregory IX!  I couldn't agree more.

This process has been followed and refined year after year.  It starts with the candidate for saint who dies with "fame of sanctity" or "fame of martyrdom.", which is not gender specific.  The Bishop of the Diocese initiates an investigation to find one piece of any special favor or miracle granted through the potential saint's actions.  Basically, did divine intervention happen for all to witness through the prayers and direct actions of this person.

Yes, the Catholic church does a real uncovering of the life and good works accomplished by said candidate.  There needs to be proof in the pudding so to speak.  This also includes any writings and teachings from this potential saint.  They are looking for "purity of doctrine", to ensure the faith was upheld and not bastardized or disregarded in any way.  This does not include the entire life of the candidate.  Believe it or not, some saints began their roots in the not-so-pure of heart.  Of course we are all human and sinners alike, even saintly figures, but sometimes a life fell more on the impure side.  However, during the saint's conversion, the church is looking to see if they upheld the teachings and the faith.  It's true, some canonized saints' backgrounds were not holy, yet along their journey they answered God and chose a different path to follow, never to return to their unholy beginnings.

All this information that is required and collected, is appropriately and faithfully recorded and placed in a formal document to be submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.

The Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, formally known as the Congregation of Rites manages and monitors the entire process.  Thanks to Pope Sixtus V, in 1588, he gave this duty to this organization and it has remained in its jurisdiction since.

Angelico Story of St. Nicholas The Death of the Saint Aunt Heather Piper
The Story of St. Nicholas: The Story of the Saint done in tempera & gold on panel by Fra Angelico 1447-48

However, this is all just preliminary work.  The Congregation needs to accept this candidate...

Read the full process Random Fun Facts:  Becoming a Saint

Heather Piper
The Light Bulb
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