Canonization is the Catholic Church’s formal process of recognizing and declaring that a person who has died is a saint, someone who is in Heaven.

A thorough and rigorous investigation is undertaken by the Church to determine if a certain person has been martyred, gave their life in service of others, or lived a life of heroic sanctity and virtue.

The process begins in the person’s own diocese and, if evidence is verifed and miracles are confirmed, continues all the way to the Vatican and the pope.

Once added to the official list of saints, the individual can then be honored publicly and venerated by the entire Church.

The process of declaring a saint:

Surrounded as we are by such an array of witnesses, through whom God is present to us and speaks to us, we are powerfully drawn to reach His Kingdom in Heaven. From time immemorial, the Apostolic See has accepted these signs and has listened to the voice of her Lord with the greatest reverence and docility. Faithful to the serious duty entrusted to her of teaching, sanctifying and governing the People of God, she proposes to the faithful for their imitation, veneration and invocation, men and women who are outstanding in the splendor of charity and other evangelical virtues and, after due investigations, she declares them, in the solemn act of canonization, to be Saints.

Pope John Paul II, Divinus Perfectionis Magister, January 5, 1983

From Servant of God to Saint:

A four step investigation:

“The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’”

Matthew 25: 21

Recognizing holy men and women:

Investigating the life of a person with a reputation for holiness:

Verifying an extraordinary life that continues to inspire:

By canonizing some of the faithful, i.e., by solemnly proclaiming that they practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God’s grace, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of holiness within her and sustains the hope of believers by proposing the saints to them as models and intercessors. “The saints have always been the source and origin of renewal in the most difficult moments in the Church’s history.” Indeed, “holiness is the hidden source and infallible measure of her apostolic activity and missionary zeal.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church 828

Canonization is not simply a stamp of approval:

The person must have lived a life of a saint on Earth:

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

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