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Feature Articles

How Does One Become a Saint?
By Megan Moore, Communications intern

As we await the next step in the canonization process of S. Blandina Segale, Servant of God, it may be important to look ahead at what’s next in her journey toward sainthood.

The process of canonization can begin at least five years after the death of a Catholic person who has been regarded as holy. This multiple-year wait is necessary to allow perspective and objectivity when examining the candidate and their life.

After at least five years have passed, the first step toward sainthood is the investigation of the candidate’s life and writings by a local bishop. The information found by the bishop is sent to the Vatican.

It is then that a panel of theologians and cardinals of the Congregation for Cause of Saints evaluate a candidate’s life. After the panel approves, the pope proclaims the candidate venerable, or a role model of Catholic virtues. The person is now a Servant of God.

Next comes beatification. In order to achieve beatification, it must be shown that the person is responsible for a posthumous miracle. Martyrs, however, can be beatified without proof of a miracle. Once beatification has occurred, the candidate receives the title of Blessed. This allows the person to be honored by a particular group or region, usually the religious community of which the now “Blessed” lived.

A second posthumous miracle must occur in order for a person to be considered a saint. If there is proof of a second miracle, the person is canonized and the Blessed is now recognized as a saint.

Being canonized is not what makes a person a saint; canonization only recognizes what God has already done. Though every person who is canonized is a saint, not every saint is canonized. We can look forward to learning about the miracles that S. Blandina has performed as well as eventually referring to a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati as a canonized saint!

To learn more about S. Blandina, her life and ministry, visit www.srcharitycinti.org/news_events/segale.htm.

Sources:
http://www.usccb.org/upload/making-saints.pdf
http://www.catholic.org/saints/faq.php