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How to Cover the Catholic Church

pope may preside at a canonization during a pastoral trip, as in 2007 in Sao

Paulo, Brazil, where Pope Benedict XVI canonized Father Antonio Galvao, a

Franciscan friar and the country’s first native-born saint.

If you’re interested in learning more about a saint-to-be and the long pro-

cess of canonization, talk to his or her postulator, the person responsible for

presenting and defending the evidence for a sainthood candidate. The church

generally must confirm two miracles through the candidate’s intercession

before a declaration of sainthood. Most often the miracles involve someone’s

medically inexplicable cure from a disease or physical disorder. If they’re still

alive, those whose healings were officially deemed miraculous often attend

the canonization ceremony and, as you might imagine, make for good inter-

views. Check, too, for pilgrims from the new saint’s religious order, lay organi-

zation or city. For example, at Mother Theodore Guerin’s 2006 canonization,

students from a college in the Indiana town where she founded the Sisters of

Providence traveled to Rome for the event.

Be careful to differentiate between saint, blessed and venerable.


is the title used for someone whom the pope has decreed as having heroic

virtues, the first step on the road to sainthood.


is the title used for

someone who has been beatified. Beatification requires the recognition of a

miracle attributed to the candidate’s intervention. Also note that the pope does

not “make” or “create” someone a saint; he simply proclaims someone a



In 2005 the Congregation for the Causes of Saints announced that Pope

Benedict would preside only at canonizations, with a delegate handling beat-

ifications—an earlier step in the process toward sainthood. His predecessor

had presided at both ceremonies. The German pontiff, who as a cardinal had

expressed concern over the number of causes being promoted, called for more

scrutiny in choosing candidates for sainthood. During his 26-year tenure,

Pope John Paul II canonized 482 people and beatified 1,341.

Click on “Saints & Blesseds” on the Vatican Web site’s home page for a list

of canonizations and beatifications during the pontificate of Pope John Paul,

and to date under Pope Benedict.


An easy way to keep track of the press office’s communiqués is to subscribe

online to VIS, the

Vatican Information Service

. On weekdays at about 3

p.m. Rome time, an e-mail goes out containing pontifical acts and nomina-

tions, a summary of the pope’s homilies and speeches, presentations and com-

munications concerning pontifical documents and Vatican departments, and