The Catholic Church believes that the legacy of some people deserves special recognition for the lives they led. This recognition is known as canonization. Thus, the fact that someone is canonized means that, in an official way, the Catholic Church proclaims as a model of conduct and moral and spiritual reference all Catholics.
The origin of canonization
In the early centuries of the Christian era, martyrs stood out for their integrity and courage. The greatest tribute a martyr could receive was to mention his name during mass, or rather in the main part of the celebration of mass. Thus, the veneration of the faithful of martyrs forms the origin of canonization.
For centuries the Catholic Church failed to apply strict rules for canonization, as the martyr’s fame was enough to obtain this tribute. In this sense, people canonized were normally missionaries, monarchs, Christians, bishops or founders of religious orders.
Historically, the first official canonization of the Catholic Church took place in the year 993, where Ulric of Augsburg was declared a saint.
The canonization process is currently subject to certain strict rules.
For someone to be recognized with this distinction it is necessary to fulfill a series of requirements:
1) the documentation process for officially accrediting one’s sanctity should never begin before five years after death; this general rule can only be broken by decision of the Pope, for example, Mother Teresa was canonized three years after her death because John Paul II declared it so;
2) the canonization proposal must be presented to the diocesan bishop of the candidate’s place of death and this proposal must document his biography , as well as a list of possible witnesses who can credit the candidate’s exceptional qualities (this stage of the process is known as diocesan investigation );
3) during the duration of the process, the church appoints a rapporteur who is responsible for overseeing all matters relating to the documentation of the canonization;
4) after completing his work , the rapporteur presents his conclusions to a commission of expert theologians, who must approve or not the canonization of the candidate.
In some cases, after recognition of canonization, beatification takes place. The beatified person becomes a blessed.