November 16, 2010.
One of the most solemn ceremonies of the year is when the Pope proclaims new saints, who serve as shining life examples for catholics worldwide. In order to declare someone a saint, the Church launches an intense investigation that can take years. During this time, the postulator examines whether or not the candidate really lived like a hero of christian virtue.
Silvia Correale is from Argentina. She is one of the few female postulators in the world. She is currently reviewing 20 beatification cases, including that of Vietnamese cardinal François Xavier Van Thuan and world-renowned architect Antoni Gaudi. Silvia Correale
“The truth is that I haven't counted all of them. I know that I have a significant number of upcoming cases that cover a little bit of every vocation, in the life of the Church.”
In order to open the beatification process, five years have to pass after the candidate's death. This time period is necessary to evaluate if this person's saintly legacy is kept alive or forgotten.Silvia Correale
“That sense of God's people among which this person was a saint. We would say we have the public opinion, that common feeling of the people, of the ordinary people of God... this is already a sign.”
The next step involves gathering testimonies from people who knew him or her, in order to demonstrate their virtues with concrete facts and not just opinions. With this information, a detailed biography called “Positio” is compiled. Silvia Correale
“It is a book that contains the biographical synthesis of the Servant of God, and information on each of the cardinal virtues that we receive in baptism: faith, hope and charity. Justice, prudence, fortitude and temperance and also virtues like humility.”
The postulator will ultimately have to prove a miracle occurred in order to validate that the candidate intercedes between man and God. The Church considers this a sign from God that certifies that this person is in heaven.
The last step before being canonized is being beatified, which means that a person can be venerated in their diocese. In order to declare someone a saint, an additional miracle has to be proven.
Every time that someone is proclaimed a new saint, it is a milestone marking the end of years of work from a postulator and his or her staff. Correale says it is like giving birth: you suffer a lot but in the end it is a great joy. Silvia Correale
“It takes many years, a lot of work and when the moment finally arrives, it is a great joy in which one has already forgotten the years of labor and working hard to convince the superiors of the Congregation of all the various motivations.”
Benedict XVI says that saints are like the jewels that adorn the Church. Because of this, the work of the postulators like Silvia Correale is like that of a goldsmith, whose vocation is about making each and every one shine.