Friday 15 December 2017

Here’s your handy guide to the new route for becoming a saint

Pope Francis has tweaked the rules; here’s what you’ll need to do.

(Niall Carson/PA)
(Niall Carson/PA)

By Taylor Heyman

The Vatican has announced that Pope Francis has created a new category for becoming a saint of the Catholic faith.

The category offers a new pathway to beatification for those who have laid down their lives to save other people.

Beatification is one of the rungs on the ladder to sainthood.

It follows Servant of God status, given to all people accepted for consideration, and Venerable status, a title granted to those who have lived a life of “heroic virtue”.

Mother Teresa was made a saint last year (Chris Bacon/PA)

This fourth pathway takes its inspiration from a passage in the Gospel of John: “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

The existing categories for sainthood are martyrdom, living a virtuous life and a holy reputation. Martyrdom is the only category which doesn’t require a miracle in some form.

So just how does one become a saint in the new category? Here’s what you need to know.

Laying down your life for others

This is the newest pathway, brought in by Pope Francis on Tuesday.

It is different from martyrdom because martyrs give up their lives for the faith, rather than for another human being.

It has five criteria which must be met to achieve beatification:

1. The free and voluntary offering of the person’s life and heroic acceptance of a certain and soon-to-come death.

2. A close relation between the offering of their life and their premature death.

3. They must have lived a life of Christian virtue before they offered their life and until they die.

4. The person must be respected and venerated as a Christian after death.

5. A miracle must have been attributed to prayers offered to the person after their death, to show that they are in heaven and able to intercede on our behalf.

What’s most important to remember is that the Catholic faith does not see its role in the process as making people saints, rather confirming what God has already done.

Press Association

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