Do All Popes Become Saints? Are They All Beatified? Canonized?

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Popeinary Graphic 2Before 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:

Beatification
Canonization
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

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