How does one become a saint? The stages to sainthood

How does one become a saint? The stages to sainthood

It is not unknown to many that the Catholic church recognizes a great number of saints. Some are very popular and some are not well known. But how does one become a saint? This is an interesting question.

But before we answer that. What is a SAINT, by the way?

A SAINT is a person who, because of being holy and virtuous during his life on earth, is regarded as being in heaven already after his death.

One clarification is that the church does not make saints. Rather, the church recognizes the holiness of life that a person lived when he or she was still on earth. And that such life deserves to be an example and model for all. Evidences that God is truly working through the person are, of course, needed to declare that one is a saint. That is why there is a tough process before the church can recognize anyone a saint.

The 5-STEP PROCESS TO SAINTHOOD is as follows:

  1. GATHERING OF INFORMATION – the local bishop gather information about the person’s life. It may either come from witnesses, or from articles written by the candidate himself/herself. If the person had kept a personal diary, a journal or had written books during his lifetime, all these will be very useful. They will also see to his reputation and activities. If the bishop finds the person worthy of becoming a saint, he will then submit all the gathered information to the Vatican. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints is the one who receives and handles the case.
  2. INVESTIGATION AND DECLARATION AS “SERVANT OF GOD”– The Congregation for the Causes of Saints can either accept the information or reject them and investigate on their own about the person’s life. The person is then declared “Servant of God” if he/she is officially considered for sainthood.
  3. DECLARATION AS “VENERABLE” – If the Congregation approved of the holiness of the person, he/she is now declared “Venerable”. This is not yet a declaration that the person is in heaven already, but that he/she is indeed a holy person. This also does not mean that the person was sinless, but that he/she ardently  and constantly strived to perfect his spirtual life.
  4. DECLARATION AS “BLESSED” – Through a process called “Beatification“, the person is regarded as already in heaven and declared as “Blessed”. For this to happen, a miracle is required. And the miracle must be attributed to the intercession of the potential saint.  Usually the miracle involved is that of healing of a gravely or terminally ill person. The healing must be scientifically unexplainable. Meaning, even the doctors could not explain how the healing happened when the person is already at the point of dying, with no chance of surviving. After the medical professionals have verified the occurrence of a miracle and approved by a panel of theologians, the final approval is left to the pope.
  5. DECLARATION AS A “SAINT” – Through a process called “Canonization”, the person is finally declared a saint. To pass through this final step, however, a second miracle is required. The second miracle shall go through the same proceedings as the first miracle.


How does one become a saint?

Mother Teresa of Calcutta will be canonized today, September 4, 2016, after her life had undergone the processes to sainthood.

You may read her story here: A Miracle from Mother Teresa and Man who experienced second miracle from Mother Teresa


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