The Sainthood Process
Are there any miracles? This query is the one most often posed by those who are interested in a canonization cause. Certainly, in Blessed Marianne's cause the Sisters of Saint Francis as well as all other of her devotees are asking for reports of miracles attributable to Mother's intercession because it is well known that one verifiable miracle is needed for her canonization. Yet, it also is important to know that when the Holy Father canonizes a Servant of God he brings to culmination an intricate process of examination of the person's holiness credentials, each stage of which must be completed before officials at the
Choosing a Candidate for a Cause
The world has been filled with saintly persons, all of whom are Saints or potential Saints in heaven. Indeed, all of us who love and serve God faithfully someday will be in heaven. It stands to reason we cannot canonize all of our very holy people who are deceased. There are choices to be made and the criteria to be met help us make these choices.
First of all, a good sign of a potential candidate for canonization is that the person stands out among other saintly people who once lived on earth as a model of virtue, one who even inspired other saintly people.
We have received a precise description of the requisites for candidates for Sainthood from Pope Benedict XVI. His Holiness in addressing the seriousness of investigations of the virtue of the Servants of God carried out in diocesan inquiries stressed that the candidates to honor at the altar must "truly enjoy a firm and widespread fame of holiness and miracles or martyrdom"
He made it clear to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints that a Cause of Beatification or Canonization should not be introduced "if proven holiness does not exist, even if the person concerned was distinguished for conformity with the Gospels and had special ecclesial and social merits." (L'Osservatore Romano,
Origin of a Cause
Where does the process of recognizing a Saint begin? It starts with none other than the faithful themselves and their opinion of the reputation of the sanctity of the candidate for Sainthood. A cause must have an actor (sponsor) to pay its expenses. As reiterated by Pope Benedict, it is an essential requirement that the person possessed heroic virtue (sanctity) which is demonstrable by sufficient compelling evidences in documentation.
If these requisites are present, a request to initiate a cause officially can be brought to the Bishop of the Diocese where the person died. If the Ordinary agrees that the person has a widespread reputation of sanctity (heroic virtue) and is presented with sufficient proofs of primary sources on hand regarding the person's heroic virtue, the Bishop can set up a diocesan inquiry to investigate the person's life and virtue more thoroughly.
Causes Begin in the Diocese -- the Inquisitional Time
When a cause is introduced officially in the diocese where the person lived and died, the person is referred to as Servant of God. A Postulator, other than the primary one needed later on for cause handling at the
Briefly, the cause moves from an initial hearing by the Bishop who evaluates the reputation of sanctity and initial primary references presented. If these are affirmative and promising the cause begins and moves on to historians appointed by the Bishop who make a complete collection of primary references to present to the examining court or Tribunal of the Diocese. If the Tribunal determines that the Servant of God does have a widespread fame of holiness and there are sufficient evidences in primary documentation to support the heroic virtue of the person, the Ordinary has good reason to submit the documentation to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the
Causes Move to the