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Saints
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The Catholic church has people who are designated Saints. So what does that mean. And why or how do they come to the conclusion that they are Saints. The Saints are a group of people that by their actions, including martyrdom, are known to be in heaven without any doubt. The Saints go back to the first Pope, Peter. The list includes the twelve apostles and St. Paul. Those are the earliest Saints know.

There are three levels a saint must pass though on the road to sainthood. They are Venerated, Beatified, and Blessed and the process can stall at any point, leaving the person locked at that level indefinitely.  

As with all things in the Catholic church there is a process in how the saint is elevated to blessed and to saint. The first requirement to being a Saint is to be dead. It makes sense because after all if you are not dead you cannot be in Heaven.

The heroic virtue element is necessary or martyrdom. A martyr is a person who has died for being Christian, died because of their belief in God and in essence died for the faith. In the United States there is not much dying for the Faith going on. However, there is plenty Martyrdom going on in China, Africa, the Philippines and South America and even Iraq. There have been news stories on how of late on the persecution of Christians in Iraq and how the priests in that area are being slaughtered. This would be modern martyrdom.

Heroic Virtue are the virtues we were all taught in school. They are faith hope and charity and prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude. If you think about the saint you will easily find at least one of these virtues. Take St. Vincent DePaul being the Apostle of Charity. We should all strive to meet these virtues in our own life’s and the Saints do give us a model for us to follow of how to implement these virtues into our own lives.

Once its determined that the person has lived his life in this manner, it is important that they let the Bishop know that they think this person is worth of Sainthood. You also need a large group to also make these requests as well as the willingness to pay for process called canonization. A modern example of this taking place is Bishop Fulton Sheen, many of his followers are working diligently to get him to be considered for the Sainthood, but in addition to working on it relentlessly, they also are accepting donations to help offset the cost of the process. One the bishop agrees with the group that the person is worthy of sainthood, the church begins its investigation of the person’s life and reviews it down to the last little detail to make sure they qualify.

From the bishop, once he has documented the person’s life and their virtue, he then sends a recommendation to Rome to the part of the Vatican called the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints. They review all the information collected and do their own investigation to see if the person can either qualify as Martyr or having a life of heroic Virtue. If the person meets this bar, they are then named Venerable. This is the first stop and the person may remain on this level for centuries.

The next level would be to send this person to the Pope. The pope would again have to review to see if there was evidence of heroic virtue. But to reach the level of Beatification, the person has to have a miracle attributed to them, either in action or in prayer. The miracle has to be certified as not being able to explain though science or doctors. It can be a cure of cancer or a recovery from a car accident. Once  the cure or miracle has been confirmed and it has been determined that you it cannot be explained though modern technology, the person is then elevated to the status of Blessed.

What the designation of Blessed means is that the person is one step from canonization. The requirements for Canonization is to have another miracle performed by the person. The second miracle has another review to make sure the Vatican wants to elevate the person to sainthood. The canonized saint is then added to the to the liturgical calendar.

Up a level: The Vatican
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