The Catholic Saints
The number of Catholic saints is estimated as somewhere between 3,000 and 10,000, depending on
whether you include ancient and medieval saints who were given the title without formal canonization.
While saints were once selected by public acclaim, there is now a more complex process by which a
suitable candidate attains sainthood. After a five-year waiting period following the candidate's death, there
begins an exhaustive investigation into his or her life, including an examination of life experiences,
surviving writings or teachings, and any actions that would indicate a high level of piety and a special
relationship with God.
The collected research is presented to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, a panel consisting of cardinals
and theologians. Once the panel deems the evidence to have merit, the Pope confers the title of "Venerable" upon
the candidate. Next follows beatification, but to achieve this, the candidate must be considered responsible for at
least one miracle after his or her death. A miracle can be as simple as an inexplicable recovery from a
major illness, occuring after the patient (or his family or friends) has prayed for help directly from the
candidate, or has had some kind of direct connection with the candidate that implies cause and effect in terms of
the recovery. The only exception to the 'miracle' requirement is death by martyrdom.
Once beatified, the candidate acquires the title "Blessed" and may be honored within his or her own religious order
or congregation. But for wider recognition, canonization is necessary. This requires evidence of a second
verifiable posthumous miracle which must have occurred after the candidate's beatification. Canonization,
once awarded, can't be revoked. The canonized candidate acquires the title of "Saint" preceding his or her first
Patron saints are essentially guardians, conferring their protection on countries, individuals, occupations,
animals or causes.
You can find the feast days of many of the saints on our Columban Calendar