The Road to Sainthood
The process by which someone is declared a saint is a long and careful road. See the four main steps along that road below.
Servant of God
Father Kapaun was named a Servant of God in 1993, signifying his cause for sainthood could begin. This step involves a thorough investigation into the person’s life and writings. A “Positio Super Vita, Virtutibus et Fama Sanctitatis” (Statement on the Life, Virtue, and Holy Reputation) of the Servant of God is compiled and presented to the Congregation for Saints in Rome.
Father Kapaun's Cause is being reviewed
The Congregation for Saints reviews the life of the Servant of God, looking for evidence that he lived the theological, cardinal, and related virtues to a heroic degree, or that he offered his life in imitation of Jesus. The Congregation will then vote on whether or not to present the case to the Holy Father, who makes a final decision. If the Pope approves, the Congregation will issue a decree of Heroic Virtue, giving the candidate the title Venerable.
Beatification is a statement that it is worthy of belief that the candidate for sainthood is in heaven. It allows the Blessed’s home diocese or region to honor him officially by celebrating him on a certain “feast” day with special prayers at Mass and by allowing images of him inside Churches. In order to be beatified, a Venerable must have a miracle attributed to his intercession as supernatural evidence that he is with God. This miracle must take place after his death. Martyrs — those who died for their faith — can be beatified without a miracle, but we have received word that Father Kapaun most likely will not be named a martyr. However, we are confident and hopeful in the alleged miracles that we are preparing for investigation.
This is the step by which the Church formally declares a person to be in heaven and enrolls him in the “Canon” or list of saints. Another miracle, having occurred after beatification, is needed to show that God indeed approves this step. Canonization means the saint can be celebrated in liturgies and with images throughout the entire Church.
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