Meaning of Canonization

By | February 13, 2021

The canonization is the act and the result of canonizing. This verb, in turn, comes from the late Latin word canonizāre and refers to naming, in a solemn way, an individual as a saint.

This means that canonization is the process that makes a deceased human being become a saint. This process is developed by the Catholic Church and involves the inclusion of the subject in question in the canon, which is the list of saints recognized by this religious institution.

When a person is canonized, they can be worshiped publicly and universally. Canonization involves assigning a liturgical feast to the saint in question, to whom images, chapels, and churches can be dedicated. Notably, Catholics believe in the ability of the saint to intercede with God.

According to DigoPaul, canonization as a formal process began to develop in the Middle Ages. For an individual to be canonized, it must first be confirmed that they have demonstrated Christian virtues to a heroic degree or that they have experienced martyrdom for their faith. It must also be confirmed that he has performed one (if he was a martyr) or two miracles (the canonization by heroic means).

To nominate a candidate for canonization, five years must have elapsed since his death. The intention that said individual be elevated to sanctity must be presented and made public, and as part of this process it is necessary to carry out an investigation to obtain a series of testimonies and biographical data.

After the nomination, a series of steps begins as the process progresses: the individual is declared a servant of God, then a venerable person, later a blessed and finally, through a solemn declaration by the pope, a saint.

Let’s look at these previous steps in more detail below.

God’s servant

The canonization process is requested by the Postulator of the Cause and the diocesan Bishop, who must, in turn, present a report with the aforementioned biographical data to the Holy See to record the virtues of the candidate.

Through the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Holy See must examine the information and, in case of accepting the request, decree that it is possible to start the cause (the name of this Decree is Nihil obstat).


The road to canonization is long and complex, and in this particular step it is necessary to overcome five well-defined phases. It all begins when the testimonies of those who have known the candidate reach the Court that the Bishop specifically designs, which carries out a process but does not issue any sentence. Then there is the Process of the writings, to analyze the orthodoxy of the works written by the postulate, under the supervision of a commission of censors.

The third phase consists of the preparation of the «Positive», a document that includes these writings, the virtues and the fundamental data of the person’s life, in addition to the testimonies presented. In the next phase, a Commission of Theologians is created to examine the document called “Positio”, and finally the Holy Father gives his Decree.


As mentioned above, before making a person a saint they must be made a blessed. For this, it is also necessary to overcome several stages, such as her presentation to the community, so that they know and admire her, both for her intercession before God and for the performance of a miracle, which must be examined in a pertinent way. Already when the existence of a second miracle is proposed, the Church begins to consider the canonization of the blessed, which in the best cases is concluded with a ceremony.