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Rome Reports

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What is a beatification? The process to make a Saint

Cardinal José Saraiva MartinsPrefect Emeritus, Congregation for the Causes of Saints“The main people in a process of beatification and canonization are not the bishops or the Church, but the faithful. The first step is done by the faithful when they say to the bishop: ?this, for us, is truly a saint.?”When the faithful ask a bishop that a person should be beatified, the bishop names a commission to prove that ones reputation of holiness is true. This is where the collection of documents that prove, with facts, the sanctity of the individual, begins. It’s called the diocesan phase. Once obtained, the documents are sent to the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints.The second stage begins at the Vatican. Historians and theologians work together to reconstruct the persons biography exactly, including their spirituality and signs of heroism.Cardinal José Saraiva MartinsPrefect Emeritus, Congregation for the Causes of Saints“The only way to prove the heroism of a person is by examining their life. If other faithful see it as heroic. For example, it is seen in many missionaries who have given their lives, sacrificing themselves completely. That is clearly a heroic life. Normal people, who may also be very good Christians, do not manifest heroism in ; that way.”After studying all the documents, a process that can take years, one must present a miracle. In the case of the canonization, the miracle must have occurred after the person has been beatified.At this point, the story and the evidence of the alleged miracle is sent to the medical committee, consisting of 60 experts who are specialists in various fields of medicine. They try to give a scientific explanation in the light of modern medicine.Cardinal José Saraiva MartinsPrefect Emeritus, Congregation for the Causes of Saints“There should be verification if the cure is unexplainable. It?s a miracle when they have three characteristics: it has to be instant, comprehensive and lasting”.Once the miracle is proved, theologians must check that the miracle has been achieved through the aid of the candidate to the altars and no other saint.Cardinal José Saraiva MartinsPrefect Emeritus, Congregation for the Causes of Saints“Holiness is the union between God and one person. Therefore the need of the miracle is not to verify the sanctity of the person but more the small way in which God confirms that that person is holy, that they are in communion with God.”Beatification is the first stage which allows the person to arrive at the altars and be venerated in his diocese. For the canonization a second miracle must be proved. ;Martyrs are considered a special case in which the most important thing is to prove that they died for defending God?s name. If that’s the case, a miracle is not required for beatification, only to be canonized.The number of saints in the Church continues to grow. There are currently more than 2,000 open cases for canonization. A sign the church is alive and an inspiration for all Christians to strive in leading a more holy life.