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What is the process for canonization? A guide for All Saints’ Day

Discover the meticulous process of canonization leading to sainthood, from the preliminary steps to beatification and ultimately canonization, as we celebrate All Saints' Day

What is the process for canonization? A guide for All Saints Day ATG EAI
First Published Nov 1, 2023, 4:23 PM IST

All Saints' Day is a time to honor and celebrate the lives of remarkable individuals who have achieved the status of sainthood within the Catholic Church. The process of canonization, which leads to the declaration of an individual as a saint, is a meticulous and sacred journey that involves various stages. This process serves as a testament to the extraordinary lives and virtues of these individuals, inspiring countless faithful followers worldwide.

Canonization is a multifaceted process that combines elements of religious tradition, historical inquiry, and spiritual discernment. It is a way for the Church to recognize and uphold those who have displayed exceptional holiness, lived lives of heroic virtue, and demonstrated profound devotion to their faith. In this guide, we will delve into the canonization process, explaining each step in detail, to help you gain a deeper understanding of how saints are recognized and celebrated on All Saints' Day.

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  1. The Preliminary Steps:

The journey towards canonization typically begins at the diocesan level. Family, friends, or religious communities of the individual initiate the process by gathering information about their life and holiness. This information is then submitted to the local bishop's office, who oversees the preliminary investigation.

The first crucial step is the "nihil obstat" or "nothing stands in the way" declaration from the local bishop. If granted, it signifies that there are no significant obstacles to beginning the cause for canonization. After this declaration, the individual in question is referred to as a "Servant of God." At this stage, a postulator, a person responsible for advocating the cause, is appointed to guide the process.

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  1. The Roman Phase:

Upon receiving the "nihil obstat," the case is forwarded to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome. The Congregation reviews all submitted documentation, and if they find that the candidate lived a life of heroic virtue and that miracles attributed to their intercession have occurred, the individual advances to the next stage. This is known as the "Declaration of Heroic Virtue."

After this declaration, the individual is referred to as "Venerable." During this phase, the focus is on the examination of the candidate's writings and teachings, ensuring they align with the teachings of the Church.

  1. Beatification:

To be declared "Blessed," the candidate must be associated with a miracle that occurred after their death and can be attributed to their intercession. This miracle is meticulously investigated to confirm its authenticity, including consultation with medical experts. Once approved, the individual is eligible for beatification, which is a significant step toward canonization.

  1. Canonization:

The final stage involves the verification of a second miracle attributed to the intercession of the candidate, which confirms their status as a saint. Upon approval, the Pope issues a formal decree of canonization, officially recognizing the individual as a saint. This declaration is celebrated with a special Mass and ceremony, and the saint's feast day is established.

The process of canonization is a deeply spiritual and rigorous journey that culminates in the recognition of exceptional individuals as saints within the Catholic Church. All Saints' Day is a time to commemorate these remarkable lives, seeking inspiration from their devotion, holiness, and heroic virtues. As we celebrate this day, let us remember the saints and their extraordinary journey to sainthood, which continues to inspire and guide believers worldwide.

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