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Introduction • xix

1. Stories or Lessons of Faith

The Saints and the Beatified of America accompany the

men and women of today with fraternal concern in all

their joys and sufferings, until the final encounter with

the Lord. With a view to encouraging the faithful to imi-

tate them ever more closely and to seek their interces-

sion more frequently . . . the Synod Fathers proposed . . .

that there be prepared “a collection of short biographies

of the Saints and the Beatified of America, which can

shed light on and stimulate the response to the universal

call to holiness in America.”

—Pope John Paul II,

The Church in America


Ecclesia in America

), no. 15

The preface and most of the chapters start with stories of Catholics, many

from the United States. As far as possible, this

United States Catholic

Catechism for Adults

relates the Church’s teachings to the culture of

the United States, both to affirm positive elements in our culture and to

A canonization today is the Church’s official declaration, through

the decision of the pope, that a person is a saint, truly in heaven

and worthy of public veneration and imitation. The process

begins by naming the person “Venerable,” a “Servant of God”who

has demonstrated a life of heroic virtue. The next stage is beati-

fication, by which a person is named “Blessed.”This step requires

one miracle attributed to the intercession of the Servant of God.

For canonization, a second miracle is needed, attributed to the

intercession of the Blessed and having occurred after the individ-

ual’s beatification. Miracles are not required for martyrs. The pope

may dispense with some of the formalities or steps in the process.