Canonization Law and Legal Definition

Canonization is the process involved in becoming a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. Before the tenth century, for hundreds of years saints were chosen by public acclaim. In the Roman Catholic Church, sainthood is conferred upon an individual only after a miracle has been unequivocally attributed to them, either during life or after death.

The steps in the process include:

The death of a Catholic whom people regard as holy.

  • An investigation of the candidate's life and writings for heroic virtue or martyrdom.
  • An evaluation by a panel of theologians at the Vatican.
  • After approval, the Pope proclaims the candidate 'venerable'.
  • The next step is beatification, which requires evidence of one miracle (except in the case of martyrs).

Recently, there has been an effort by Paul Pope Benedict XVI to have Pope John II on the fast track to possible sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church.

"The pope said Friday he had dispensed with rules that normally impose a five-year waiting period before beatification -- the last step before sainthood -- can even start.

Benedict's decision means that John Paul, who died on April 2, could be beatified and thus declared a "blessed of the Church" within a few years if a miracle can be attributed to him."