So you want become and a saint and be revered throughout eternity? You want to have a “day” named after you and have people pray to you? Here’s some simple steps, that if followed, will ensure your passage into the select family of sainthood.
Die. That’s right. Die. According to the Code of Canon Law
, no person can be proclaimed a saint until after his or her death
. (Sorry, Mother Teresa
, you gave it your best shot). Tradition
once held that a person must be dead for fifty years before any consideration could be given towards sainthood. In these “modern times”, the waiting period has been narrowed down to a mere five years.
The second step on the road to sainthood is called the “Prejuridical Phase.” This is when financial support on your behalf is gathered and any historical facts and divine favors you might have been granted are documented. Your supporters are then asked to petition the local bishop to officially begin the “Ordinary Process.”
Once the “Ordinary Process” has been completed we now enter into what is known as the “Informative Phase.” It’s during this phase that local bishop makes a determination as to the merits of your case. A tribunal
is established in order to determine if you have become an object of public veneration
since your death. If they determine that you have, you move on to the next step, if not, well, I guess you just remain dead.
Since you’ve made it this far, we now enter in to what is called the “Judgment of Orthodoxy
. This is when officials in charge of the process gather and pore over any writings that you left behind. It’s also where most of the causes for sainthood stall. This is because the officials/investigators might find questionable content in your written words. On the other hand, your supporters are allowed to try and disprove any of the findings of the officials/investigators.
If you’ve been lucky or holy enough to make it this far, you now enter into the “Roman
Phase.” It’s in this phase that your records are packed up from your neighborhood and shipped to Rome
. Once they get there, a priest and a canon lawyer
will be assigned to represent you and your petitioners. They are charged with arguing your case for further investigation.
Ah, but not so fast. In addition, a “Promoter of the Faith” or Devil’s Advocate
is also appointed to your case. Their job is to poke holes and pose objections to your cause. This process of arguing between your canon lawyer and the Promoter of the Faith can take anywhere from several months to several years. When a final determination is made, it’s sent up the chain of command to the Pope
. Most of the time this is rubber stamped by his holiness and you are then granted a “Decree of Introduction”. Sometimes though, the Pope finds fault with the case and the process (as well as you) is dead.
Let’s assume the Pope has okayed you. We now come upon the “Historical Section”. Here’s where Vatican
officials research the accuracy of the facts of your life. They also exhume your body for examination by the local bishop. Should the local bishop determine that your body is not actually buried at a particular site, your cause still marches on however, any grave site devotions that have been carried on in your honor must cease. If your body is discovered without any corruption (rotted), your chances for sainthood have just improved immensely. It should be noted that the Roman Catholic Church
does not 100% recognize your state of incorruption as a sign of sanctity
but it sure helps.
Did I mention miracles? You need to have at least two them to your credit before the process of beatification can begin. The church defines theses miracles as acts of God performed through the intercession of the deceased (that’s you). If no evidence of miracles is forthcoming, you can still be beatified but only as a martyr.
For those of you still with me, it’s here that the pope and his buddies, the cardinals, agree that you should now be venerated and are given the title “Blessed.” Should you be credited with two more miracles, your Blessed self is then officially canonized and declared a saint at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.