The Catholic Church has a beatification and canonization process when declaring a saint. The Church investigates their life and needs two miracles. Here are the steps to becoming a saint.

Step 1 – The local bishop opens an official Cause for Beatification and Canonization

Before the Church considers anyone for canonization, they have to no longer be living. Unless the pope waives it, the Church also has a five year waiting period before moving forward. This allows for a more calm and objective process.

After the five years, the local bishop opens an official cause for canonization. As long as there is no objection from the Catholic Church, the cause opens and the person is declared a “Servant of God.”

Step 2 – The Informative Process – “Servant of God”

Servant of God Dorothy Day (1916)
Servant of God Dorothy Day (1916)

Next the Catholic Church investigates to see if they lived with heroic virtue.

Depending on the person, this step can take many years. The postulator, the one in charge of moving the cause forward, must gather as much information as they can. This includes all writings and testimonies from those who knew them.

In some cases, this also includes seeing whether the person’s death was a martyrdom for the faith.

Step 3 – Voting Process to become “Venerable”

Venerable Louise-Marie of France by Jean-Marc Nattier (1748)
Venerable Louise-Marie of France by Jean-Marc Nattier (1748)

Next, the bishop submits it to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. The postulator summarizes the findings into a “Positio.”

Nine theologians review the Positio and vote to approve or deny the Cause. If approved, the cardinals and bishops of the Congregation review the Positio. When cleared, the Cause finally moves to the Pope who finalizes whether to continue or not.

If the Pope approves their heroic virtue, he declares them to be a “Venerable.” If the findings also support a true martyrdom, the person is a “Blessed” instead.

Step 4 – Approval of a miracle – “Blessed”

Bl. Miguel Pro (November 23rd, 1927)
Bl. Miguel Pro (November 23rd, 1927)

Once a Venerable, the person must have a miracle attributed to their intercession. All potential miracles go through a similar rigorous process for authenticity. Science must not be able to explain the miracle.

After the Church approves the miracle, the Pope declares the Venerable to be a Blessed. The local diocese or region receives permission to venerate the person.

Step 5 – Approval of another miracle – “Saint”

Canonization Mass of Sts. Joseph Freinademetz Daniel Comboni Arnold Janssen by Pope St. John Paul II, Rome, 5 October 2003
Canonization Mass of Sts. Joseph Freinademetz Daniel Comboni Arnold Janssen by Pope St. John Paul II, Rome, 5 October 2003

Like in the last step, the Blessed requires another approved miracle to move to the final stage. This miracle must take place after their beatification occurred.

After he approves the second miracle, the Pope declares them a saint. According to the Catholic Church, the saint is in heaven. Thanks to this canonization process, the universal Church may venerate them.