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