What is a Canonized Saint?

A Saint is a person who has lived in holy imitation of Christ, to such an extent that:
* they are certainly in Heaven with God,
* they are among the most powerful intercessors in Heaven,
* their holy lives are set forth by the Church as examples to be imitated.

The canonization of someone as a Saint does not only mean that the person is in Heaven. An infant baptized shortly before death is certainly in Heaven, but is not a Saint. An adult baptized shortly before death is almost certainly in Heaven (unless an unrepentant mortal sin were committed in the time between baptism and death). Canonization is only given by the Church to persons who lived holy lives in imitation of Christ, who are therefore understood to be among the most effective intercessors for the faithful to flee to in times of need, and whose lives are to be imitated according to the saying of Saint Paul:

[1 Corinthians 11]
{11:1} Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ.

Are canonizations infallible? The Congregation of the Causes of the Saints has stated that it is the majority opinion of theologians that canonizations enter into the secondary objects of Papal Infallibility. However, I disagree with this opinion. The process to canonize a Saint, one whose sanctity is not attested in Sacred Scripture, involves a judgment of the prudential order. I don’t believe that God would permit the Church to canonize an evil person; but some Saints are more holy, and others less so. Since it is a matter of degree, I don’t think the choice can be said to be infallible. See my post here.

Council of Trent

The Council taught the following:

“the Saints, who reign united with Christ, offer their own prayers to God for men, and that it is good and useful to invoke them by humble petition and to flee to their prayers, influence, and help in order to obtain benefits from God, through His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who is our sole Redeemer and Savior.”

Saints reign united with Christ. The Saints enjoy eternal happiness in Heaven. Saints are powerful intercessors before God with Christ.

“Then truly, [the Bishops shall diligently teach] that great fruit is derived from all sacred images, not only because the people are admonished of the benefits and gifts which have been bestowed on them by Christ, but also because the miracles which are of God through the Saints, and the salutary examples [of the Saints], are set before the eyes of the faithful, so that they may give thanks to God for them, [and] may compose their own life and behaviors in imitation of the Saints, and may be prompted to adore and to love God, and to cultivate piety.”

Miracles and other benefits can be obtained through the Saints. Their lives are salutary examples set before the eyes of the faithful, for their imitation.

So we see from the teaching of the Council of Trent that canonization does not merely mean that the person is in Heaven, but rather it means all these things:
* they are certainly in Heaven with God,
* they are among the most powerful intercessors in Heaven,
* their holy lives are set forth by the Church as examples to be imitated.

Canonizations on 14 October 2018

See this article at Salt and Light on the persons to be canonized by Pope Francis on Sunday, October 14th, 2018.

Pope Paul VI will be canonized. This canonization adds further weight to the teaching of Humanae Vitae. The teaching may be infallible under the ordinary and universal Magisterium, but it is also now the teaching of a Saint. The teaching of Humanae Vitae must be clarified and confirmed, against all errors and distortions, lest grave error be attributed to a Saint and to the Magisterium.

Nunzio Sulpizio will also be canonized. He is a model of patient suffering: “Jesus suffered so much for us and by his merits we await eternal life. If we suffer a little bit, we will taste the joy of paradise. Jesus suffered a lot for me. Why should I not suffer for Him? I would die in order to convert even one sinner.” [More]

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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6 Responses to What is a Canonized Saint?

  1. Dora says:

    Do you still think Pope Francis will become a saint?

  2. Dora says:

    Do you believe he is covering up sex abuse?

  3. Dora says:

    Thanks, I did not intend it to sound accusatory.

  4. Damian says:

    I’m from Argentina. I know him from his labor as Archbishop; and once 2011 i sent a letter for a personal issue to him, and he telephoned me. It was a few minutes. My impression about him that he is a very humble person, very corcerned about Church and specially from poor people. The accusations from Vigano and others are very unfairs. I hope americans catholics mantain their unity with Pope. Greetings.

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