The Catholic Church in Canada

Canada's Saints and Blesseds

A number of men and women, each in some particular way, have shaped the life of the Church in Canada by their holiness of life. Nourished by prayer and the Sacraments and fortified by the practice of the virtues, they spread the Good News in Canada, dedicated themselves to the service of others—especially the underprivileged—scarified life’s comforts and in some instances even gave up their lives in witness to their faith. Over the years, a succession of Popes has recognized these noble men and women, declaring them Saints, Blesseds, Venerables, and Servants of God.

Why do Catholics remember and venerate the saints?

In remembering and venerating the saints, Catholics seek not only to cherish the memory of those in heaven, but to unite themselves to them in order that the Church on earth may be strengthened in Spirit. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting Lumen Gentium no. 50, states: “Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom, as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself” (CCC, 957).

Why do we pray to the saints?

To this question, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting Lumen Gentium no. 49, replies: “Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness. . . . They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus . . . . So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped” (CCC, 956).

How is someone declared a Blessed or a Saint?

What is canonization?

Canonization is a process by which the Catholic Church recognizes the sanctity of a deceased person and includes his or her name in the liturgical calendar, proposing devotion to this individual by believers throughout the world.

– In order to be recognized as a saint, a candidate must normally fulfill several criteria, including: having led a remarkable and exemplary Christian life, and having at least two miracles recognized as taking place through the intercession of this person.
– A Blessed is declared a saint after a complex and thorough process which must, among other things, confirm the Blessed’s heroic virtue or martyrdom, and the authenticity of any reported miracle. The complex and thorough process takes place through canonical diocesan tribunals.
– Canonization is the final step: only those already beatified by the Catholic Church (i.e. the Blessed) may become candidates for canonization.

What is the purpose of canonization?

– The Catholic Church calls upon believers to emulate the remarkable people it has elevated to the rank of “Venerable”, “Blessed”, and, ultimately, “Saint”. As prayed in the Preface for Holy Men and Women: “In their lives on earth you give us an example. In our communion with them, you give us their friendship. In their prayer for the Church you give us strength and protection.”
– Through the celebration of a canonization, devotion to a Blessed is now extended to the Universal Church (i.e. to all Christian believers throughout the world) whereas previously it was only authorized within a specific diocese, region, nation or institute of consecrated life.

The main phases of canonization

The canonization process begins in the diocese where the person died. Then, the Holy See, under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, takes charge of this process which follows a centuries-old procedure, modernized only in 1983. A long period of time — sometimes many years — may take place before one is recognized as Blessed. Only a few will reach sainthood.

What is required?

Sustained and fervent devotion must be shown toward a “Blessed,” to whose intercession at least one miracle has been attributed in the past.

1. Identification of a new miracle, usually an act of healing, linked to this devotion.
2. Presentation of a case before a tribunal of the diocese in which the individual on the road to sainthood died.
3. The 1st favourable ruling must be given by the Holy See’s Medical Commission after a thoroughly documented process calling upon numerous witnesses and experts. This commission is charged with confirming that the act of healing is authentic and that it cannot be explained by present medical science.
4. The 2nd favourable ruling must be given by the Holy See’s Theological Commission. These proceedings serve to determine whether the act of healing can be directly attributed to the devotion toward the “Blessed” on the part of the person who received the miracle (or his or her loved ones).
5. The 3rd favourable ruling must be given by the ordinary Commission of Cardinals and Bishops, who are to decide if it is desirable and relevant to extend devotion toward the “Blessed” to the Universal Catholic Church. The Commission’s recommendation is then submitted to His Holiness the Pope, with whom the final decision rests.

The North American Martyrs

Canadian Saints

Canadian Blesseds