Hey, Father! What is the distinction between Venerables, Blesseds, and Saints?
What is the distinction between Venerables, Blesseds, and Saints?
– Laura in Springfield
The titles of Venerable, Blessed, and Saint are given at various stages to those whom the Catholic Church is considering for canonization, the title of Saint, of course, being the last one.
Once a local bishop receives permission from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome to investigate the life of a person who has died and who had a reputation for holiness, the title of Servant of God is given to the person. The bishop then begins a formal inquiry into the biography of the Servant of God to be certain he or she actually existed, has died, and researches the Servant of God’s writings looking for anything contrary to the faith. When the investigations are complete, a report is sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
After the cardinals and bishops who are members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints read through the report, they make a recommendation to the pope as to whether or not the pope should declare that the person in question lived a life of heroic virtue. If the Holy Father so declares, he grants the title of Venerable to the person because his or her life is worthy of imitation by the Christian faithful.
After a person is declared Venerable, the Church begins looking for possible miraculous healings that can be attributed to the intercession of the Venerable. When such a case is reported to the bishop, an investigation is done which involves a team of medical professionals to ascertain whether the healing can be attributed to any natural means. If the investigation finds the contrary, another report is sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. If the cardinals and bishops who serve on the Congregation judge the healing to be miraculous, they recommend it to the pope. If the pope finds it to be a miracle, he grants the title of Blessed to the person in question through a formal declaration that the Blessed is in heaven because he or she has been shown to have interceded before the throne of God. When a person is declared Blessed, liturgical prayers for the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours may be prayed in the location where he or she lived and/or died, but not throughout the universal Church.
After a person is declared a Blessed, a search begins for a second miraculous healing that can be attributed to the Blessed’s intercession. If such a miracle is found and so determined by the pope, he names the Blessed a Saint, which allows for liturgical prayers to be prayed in the Mass and the Liturgical of the Hours in honor of that person throughout the whole world.
Fr. Daren Zehnle is pastor at St. Augustine in Ashland and is the director for the Office of Divine Worship and the Catechumenate for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.