Canonization is the declaration of a deceased person as an officially recognized saint,specifically, the official act of a Christian communion declaring a person worthy of public veneration and entering their name in the canon catalogue of saints, or authorized list, of that communion's recognized saints.
Canonization is a papal declaration that the Catholic faithful may venerate a particular deceased member of the church. Popes began making such decrees in the tenth century. Up to that point, the local bishops governed the veneration of holy men and women within their own dioceses; and there may have been, for any particular saint, no formal decree at all. In subsequent centuries, the procedures became increasingly regularized and the Popes began restricting to themselves the right to declare someone a Catholic saint. In contemporary usage, the term is understood to refer to the act by which any Christian church declares that a person who has died is a saint, upon which declaration the person is included in the list of recognized saints, called the "canon".
The Roman Rite's Canon of the Mass contains only the names of martyrs, along with that of the Blessed Virgin Mary and, since 1962, that of Saint Joseph her spouse.
By the fourth century, however, "confessors"—people who had confessed their faith not by dying but by word and life—began to be venerated publicly. Examples of such people are Saint Hilarion and Saint Ephrem the Syrian in the East, and Saint Martin of Tours and Saint Hilary of Poitiers in the West. Their names were inserted in the diptychs, the lists of saints explicitly venerated in the liturgy, and their tombs were honoured in like manner as those of the martyrs. Since the witness of their lives was not as unequivocal as that of the martyrs, they were venerated publicly only with the approval by the local bishop. This process is often referred to as "local canonization".
This approval was required even for veneration of a reputed martyr. In his history of the Donatist heresy, Saint Optatus recounts that at Carthage a Catholic matron, named Lucilla, incurred the censures of the Church for having kissed the relics of a reputed martyr whose claims to martyrdom had not been juridically proved. And Saint Cyprian (died 258) recommended that the utmost diligence be observed in investigating the claims of those who were said to have died for the faith. All the circumstances accompanying the martyrdom were to be inquired into; the faith of those who suffered, and the motives that animated them were to be rigorously examined, in order to prevent the recognition of undeserving persons. Evidence was sought from the court records of the trials or from people who had been present at the trials.
Augustine of Hippo (died 430) tells of the procedure which was followed in his day for the recognition of a martyr. The bishop of the diocese in which the martyrdom took place set up a canonical process for conducting the inquiry with the utmost severity. The acts of the process were sent either to the metropolitan or primate, who carefully examined the cause, and, after consultation with the suffragan bishops, declared whether the deceased was worthy of the name of 'martyr' and public veneration.
Though not "canonizations" in the narrow sense, acts of formal recognition, such as the erection of an altar over the saint's tomb or transferring the saint's relics to a church, were preceded by formal inquiries into the sanctity of the person's life and the miracles attributed to that person's intercession.
Such acts of recognition of a saint were authoritative, in the strict sense, only for the diocese or ecclesiastical province for which they were issued, but with the spread of the fame of a saint, were often accepted elsewhere also.
In the Catholic Church, both Latin and constituent Eastern churches, the act of canonization is reserved to the Apostolic See and occurs at the conclusion of a long process requiring extensive proof that the candidate for canonization lived and died in such an exemplary and holy way that they are worthy to be recognized as a saint. The Church's official recognition of sanctity implies that the person is now in Heaven and that they may be publicly invoked and mentioned officially in the liturgy of the Church, including in the Litany of the Saints.
In the Catholic Church, canonization is a decree that allows universal veneration of the saint. For permission to venerate merely locally, only beatification is needed.
For several centuries the bishops, or in some places only the primates and patriarchs,could grant martyrs and confessors public ecclesiastical honor; such honor, however, was always decreed only for the local territory of which the grantors had jurisdiction. Only acceptance of the cultus by the Pope made the cultus universal, because he alone can rule the universal Catholic Church. Abuses, however, crept into this discipline, due as well to indiscretions of popular fervor as to the negligence of some bishops in inquiring into the lives of those whom they permitted to be honoured as saints.
In the Medieval West, the Apostolic See was asked to intervene in the question of canonizations so as to ensure more authoritative decisions. The canonization of Saint Udalric, Bishop of Augsburg by Pope John XV in 993 was the first undoubted example of papal canonization of a saint from outside of Rome being declared worthy of liturgical veneration for the entire church.
Thereafter, recourse to the judgment of the Pope occurred more frequently. Toward the end of the 11th century the Popes began asserting their exclusive right to authorize the veneration of a saint against the older rights of bishops to do so for their dioceses and regions. Popes therefore decreed that the virtues and miracles of persons proposed for public veneration should be examined in councils, more specifically in general councils. Pope Urban II, Pope Calixtus II, and Pope Eugene III conformed to this discipline.
Hugh de Boves, Archbishop of Rouen, canonized Walter of Pontoise, or St. Gaultier, in 1153, the final saint in Western Europe to be canonized by an authority other than the Pope:"The last case of canonization by a metropolitan is said to have been that of St. Gaultier, or Gaucher, [A]bbot of Pontoise, by the Archbishop of Rouen. A decree of Pope Alexander III [in] 1170 gave the prerogative to the [P]ope thenceforth, so far as the Western Church was concerned." In a decretal of 1173, Pope Alexander III reprimanded some bishops for permitting veneration of a man who was merely killed while intoxicated, prohibited veneration of the man, and most significantly decreed that "you shall not therefore presume to honor him in the future; for, even if miracles were worked through him, it is not lawful for you to venerate him as a saint without the authority of the Catholic Church." Theologians disagree as to the full import of the decretal of Pope Alexander III: either a new law was instituted, in which case the Pope then for the first time reserved the right of beatification to himself, or an existing law was confirmed.
However, the procedure initiated by the decretal of Pope Alexander III was confirmed by a bull of Pope Innocent III issued on the occasion of the canonization of Cunigunde of Luxembourg in 1200. The bull of Pope Innocent III resulted in increasingly elaborate inquiries to the Apostolic See concerning canonizations. Because the decretal of Pope Alexander III did not end all controversy and some bishops did not obey it in so far as it regarded beatification, the right of which they had certainly possessed hitherto, Pope Urban VIII issued the Apostolic letter Caelestis Hierusalem cives of 5 July 1634 that exclusively reserved to the Apostolic See both its immemorial right of canonization and that of beatification. He further regulated both of these acts by issuing his Decreta servanda in beatificatione et canonizatione Sanctorum on 12 March 1642.
In his De Servorum Dei beatificatione et de Beatorum canonizatione of five volumes the eminent canonist Prospero Lambertini (1675–1758), who later became Pope Benedict XIV, elaborated on the procedural norms of Pope Urban VIII's Apostolic letter Caelestis Hierusalem cives of 1634 and Decreta servanda in beatificatione et canonizatione Sanctorum of 1642, and on the conventional practice of the time. His work published from 1734 to 1738 governed the proceedings until 1917. The article "Beatification and canonization process in 1914" describes the procedures followed until the promulgation of the Codex of 1917. The substance of De Servorum Dei beatifιcatione et de Beatorum canonizatione was incorporated into the Codex Iuris Canonici (Code of Canon Law) of 1917,which governed until the promulgation of the revised Codex Iuris Canonici in 1983 by Pope John Paul II. Prior to promulgation of the revised Codex in 1983, Pope St. Paul VI initiated a simplification of the procedures.
The Apostolic constitution Divinus Perfectionis Magister of Pope John Paul II of 25 January 1983and the norms issued by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on 7 February 1983 to implement the constitution in dioceses, continued the simplification of the process initiated by Pope Paul VI. Contrary to popular belief, the reforms did not eliminate the office of the Promoter of the Faith (Latin: Promotor Fidei), popularly known as the Devil's advocate, whose office is to question the material presented in favor of canonization. The reforms were intended to reduce the adversarial nature of the process. In November 2012 Pope Benedict XVI appointed Monsignor Carmello Pellegrino as Promoter of the Faith.
Candidates for canonization undergo the following process:
Canonization is a statement of the Church that the person certainly enjoys the Beatific Vision of Heaven. The title of "Saint" (Latin: Sanctus or Sancta) is then proper, reflecting that the saint is a refulgence of the holiness (sanctitas) of God himself, which alone comes from God's gift. The saint is assigned a feast day which may be celebrated anywhere in the universal Church, although it is not necessarily added to the General Roman Calendar or local calendars as an "obligatory" feast; parish churches may be erected in their honor; and the faithful may freely celebrate and honor the saint.
Although recognition of sainthood by the Pope does not directly concern a fact of Divine revelation, nonetheless it must be "definitively held" by the faithful as infallible pursuant to, at the least, the Universal Magisterium of the Church, because it is a truth related to revelation by historical necessity.
Regarding the Eastern Catholic Churches, individual sui juris churches have the right to "glorify" saints for their own jurisdictions, although this has rarely happened.
Popes have several times permitted to the universal Church, without executing the ordinary judicial process of canonization described above, the veneration as a saint, the " cultus " of one long venerated as such locally. This act of a Pope is denominated "equipollent" or "equivalent canonization"and "confirmation of cultus". In such cases, there is no need to have a miracle attributed to the saint to allow their canonization. According to the rules Pope Benedict XIV (regnat 17 August 1740 – 3 May 1758) instituted, there are three conditions for an equipollent canonization: (1) existence of an ancient cultus of the person, (2) a general and constant attestation to the virtues or martyrdom of the person by credible historians, and (3) uninterrupted fame of the person as a worker of miracles.
The majority of Protestant denominations do not formally recognize saints, believing that all Christian believers (living and dead, and regardless of the specific branch of Christianity to which they adhered) are considered saints. However, some denominations do, as shown below.
The Church of England, the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion, canonized Charles I as a saint, in the Convocations of Canterbury and York of 1660.
The General Conference of the United Methodist Church has formally declared individuals martyrs , including Dietrich Bonhoeffer (in 2008) and Martin Luther King Jr. (in 2012).
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The following terms are used for canonization by the autocephalous national Eastern Orthodox Churches: канонизацияor прославление "glorification" (Russian Orthodox Church), კანონიზაცია kanonizats’ia (Georgian Orthodox Church), канонизација (Serbian Orthodox Church), canonizare (Romanian Orthodox Church), and Канонизация (Bulgarian Orthodox Church). The following terms are used for canonization by other autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Churches: αγιοκατάταξη (Katharevousa: ἁγιοκατάταξις) agiokatataxi/agiokatataxis, "ranking among saints" (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, Church of Cyprus, Church of Greece), kanonizim (Albanian Orthodox Church), kanonizacja (Polish Orthodox Church), and kanonizace/kanonizácia (Czech and Slovak Orthodox Church).
The Orthodox Church in America, an Eastern Orthodox Church partly recognized as autocephalous, uses the term "glorification" for granting official recognition to someone as a saint (see glorification ).
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Within the Armenian Apostolic Church, part of Oriental Orthodoxy, there had been discussions since the 1980s about canonizing the victims of the Armenian genocide.On 23 April 2015, all of the victims of the genocide were canonized.
Those proposed as coming under the definition of cases excepted (casus excepti) by Urban VIII are treated in another way. In such cases it must be proved that an immemorial public veneration (at least for 100 years before the promulgation, in 1640, of the decrees of Urban VIII) has been paid the servant of God, whether confessor or martyr. Such cause is proposed under the title of "confirmation of veneration" (de confirmatione cultus); it is dealt with in an ordinary meeting of the Congregation of Rites.
In 1660 the convocations of Canterbury and York canonized King Charles.
In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness, likeness, or closeness to God. However, the use of the term saint depends on the context and denomination. In Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Oriental Orthodox, and Lutheran doctrine, all of their faithful deceased in Heaven are considered to be saints, but some are considered worthy of greater honor or emulation; official ecclesiastical recognition, and consequently a public cult of veneration, is conferred on some saints through the process of canonization in the Catholic Church or glorification in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Saint Philomena was a young consecrated virgin whose remains were discovered on May 24–25, 1802, in the Catacomb of Priscilla. Three tiles enclosing the tomb bore an inscription, Pax Tecum Filumena, that was taken to indicate that her name was Filumena, the English form of which is Philomena. Philomena is the patron saint of infants, babies, and youth.
In the Catholic Church, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints is the congregation of the Roman Curia that oversees the complex process that leads to the canonization of saints, passing through the steps of a declaration of "heroic virtues" and beatification. After preparing a case, including the approval of miracles, the case is presented to the pope, who decides whether or not to proceed with beatification or canonization. This is one of nine Vatican Curial congregations.
Beatification is a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a deceased person's entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in their name. Beati is the plural form, referring to those who have undergone the process of beatification; they possess the title of "Blessed" before their names and are often referred to in English as "a Blessed" or, plurally, "Blesseds".
The Venerable is a style, title, or epithet which is used in some Christian churches.
The process of beatification and canonization has undergone various reforms in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. For current practice, as well as a discussion of similar processes in other churches, see the article on canonization. This article describes the process as it was before the promulgation of the Codex Iuris Canonici of 1983.
"Servant of God" is a title used in the Catholic Church to indicate that an individual is on the first step toward possible canonization as a saint.
Glorification may have several meanings in Christianity. From the Catholic canonization to the similar sainthood of the Eastern Orthodox Church to salvation in Christianity in Protestant beliefs, the glorification of the human condition can be a long and arduous process.
Canonization of Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer discusses John Paul II's decision to canonize Josemaría Escrivá, founder of the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei, more commonly known as Opus Dei.
Bartholomew of Braga - born Bartolomeu Fernandes and in religious Bartolomeu dos Mártires - was a Portuguese Roman Catholic and a professed member from the Order of Preachers as well as the Archbishop Emeritus of Braga. Fernandes participated in the Council of Trent and also collaborated with Charles Borromeo at the council while also establishing a series of hospitals and hospices in Braga while publishing a range of works from catechism to other topics.
Devasahayam Pillai, known as Lazarus his baptismal name, is a beatified Indian layman of the Catholic Church. Born into a Hindu family in the 18th century, he converted to Catholicism and is considered a martyr of the Christian faith. Pillai was an official in the court of the King of Travancore, Maharaja Marthanda Varma, when he came under the influence of Dutch naval commander, Captain Eustachius De Lannoy, who instructed him in the Catholic faith. He is believed to have been killed by the Travancore state for upholding his Christian faith.
Szymon of Lipnica was a Polish Roman Catholic priest and a professed member from the Order of Friars Minor. He became a sought after and noted preacher and took as his preaching inspiration Saint Bernardine of Siena and also was a strong proponent of popular devotions that he worked to spread.
Alain de Solminihac was a French Roman Catholic religious reformer and served as the Bishop of Cahors from 1636 until his death.
María Bernarda Bütler - born Verena Bütler - was a Swiss Roman Catholic professed religious and the foundress of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and a part of the missions in Ecuador and Colombia. Bütler worked for the care of the poor in these places until her exile from Ecuador and entrance into Colombia where she worked for the remainder of her life. Her order moved there with her, and continued to expand during her time there until her death.
The canonization process of Pope Pius XII dates to shortly after his death in 1958. He was declared a servant of God in 1990 and venerable in 2009. Father Peter Gumpel is currently the relator of Pius XII's cause for canonization. The potential beatification of Pius XII has raised concern, especially by Jewish organisations, because of his controversial record during the Holocaust. The objections especially arise because of the refusal by the Vatican to allow independent access to the Vatican's archives for the period of Pius XII's papacy.
Stanisław Kazimierczyk was a Polish Catholic priest and a professed member of the Canons Regular of the Lateran. He became noted for his ardent devotions to both the Eucharist and to his personal patron saint, Stanislaus of Szczepanów, as well as for his charitable dedication to the ill and poor of Kraków.
The cause for the canonization of Pope Paul VI, who died in 1978, commenced in 1993 and he was canonized on 14 October 2018. After having been proclaimed a Servant of God and declared Venerable, he was beatified on 19 October 2014, after the recognition of a miracle had been attributed to his intercession, and declared a saint by Pope Francis on 14 October 2018.
Maiorem hac dilectionem is an apostolic letter issued in the form of a motu proprio of Pope Francis, dated 11 July 2017. The document creates a new path towards sainthood under the canonization procedures of the Roman Catholic Church, through the path of oblatio vitae. This means the offering of one's life and premature death for another individual; it is to give one's life as a sacrifice for another.
Equivalent canonization or equipollent canonization is a form of canonization that occurs when the Pope recognizes and orders the public and universal worship of a Servant of God, without having gone through the procedure normally required by formal canonization, because veneration of the saint has been carried out since ancient times and continuously by the Church.
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