How do Saints and Martyrs Become Officially Recognized by the Church

Both the ordinary members of the church as well as the church authorities are involved in the rigorous process, leading up to the official recognition of a person as a saint for the whole church.

Role of the Faithful

It is the ordinary faithful members of the church who first recognize certain individuals as exceptionally good and holy people. They often ask for their prayers and seek their advice. After their deaths, they visit their graves and pray to them and for them. Frequently people outside the church are also deeply impressed by the goodness and integrity of the lives of these holy people. They see them as having a special influence for good in society, by being role models for individuals, families and communities. Their presence and manner of life make the world a better place for everyone. A couple of good examples of such holy people in recent times are Mother Teresa, now St. Teresa of Kolkata (Calcutta), and Pope John Paul II, now St. John Paul II. They can illustrate the thorough process followed before individuals are officially recognized by the church as saints.

After they had passed to eternal life, more and more people visited their graves to pray there. In ever-increasing numbers people around the world prayed to them, that they would intercede with God for some special favour such as, healing of serious illness, help with some family problem, success in studies or in business, or in finding a job, as well as protection from some evil or danger. There was a general expectation that it was only a matter of time until the church would recognize these two remarkable people as saints.