Before digging into this question, let’s first talk about the difference betweenbeatification and canonization. After all, clarification is the whole point of the Popeinary – wouldn’t you agree?
When a person is beatified, it means they are blessed. But wait – aren’t we all blessed? Yes…but we are blessed in a different way than the how it is intended here. To be considered truly blessed, a person must not only have lived a life centered around Christian values but they must also have performed a miracle.
Now, while getting home from work in less than thirty minutes on a Friday night may *seem* like a miracle, there are also specific regulations around what constitutes a true miracle. For something to be a miracle, it has to be instant, comprehensive, and lasting. There’s a good chance our Friday traffic will be back the following week, so it is neither comprehensive or lasting.
Once it is shown that a person has led a solid Christian-focused life and has performed a miracle (or were martyred for their faith), they can be venerated in their local diocese. (For more information on veneration and worship, click here).
To become canonized, a second miracle must take place. Only a pope can issue the decree that a person is indeed holy and in heaven with God. Once canonized, a person can be remembered at liturgies through the year at any parish and not just the one in their hometown. They can also have a church dedicated in their name without consent of the Vatican.
So, it really comes down to a few key differences:
|Number and Location of Diocese that can celebrate||Limited||Limitless|
|Can become the Patron of a Parish||Needs the consent of the Vatican||No Vatican consent needed|
|Who initiates the request with the Pope||Bishop of the diocese where the person died||The Prefect for the Congregation of Saints|
|Type of Veneration||Usually limited to places closely associated to a person’s life||Formal decree by the Pope (inherent Papal infallibility), allows public remembrance of the person throughout the liturgical year.|
|Miracles Needed?||One that is instant, comprehensive, and lasting||Two – the first being the one that enabled them to become beatified, the second which takes place after their death as a sign of Divine approval|
So, now that we’ve cleared that up, back to the original question: do all popes become saints? The answer is no. While more popes have been canonized than those that remain “only” beatified, becoming a Pope does not guarantee you will become a saint.
Copyright 2013 Jen Frost