A guide to the Catholic church's sainthood procedure
The process that can lead to sainthood, known as a "cause," cannot usually start until five years after a person's death.
In some cases, this five-year waiting period can be waived by a pope if there is overwhelming evidence that the person under consideration lived a holy life.
In the early years of the church, a saint could be declared such by acclamation by the people or by cardinals or by papal decree.
Miracles are not performed by prospective saints but by God. The church believes that, because a prospective saint is in heaven, he or she can intercede with God to perform the miracle on someone on earth who has prayed to the prospective saint.
Miracles are not necessary if a person was a martyr, someone killed in what the church calls "hatred of the faith." If a miracle is determined for those who were not martyrs, the person can be "beatified" and is given the title "Blessed."
A second, distinct miracle must take place after the beatification in order to proceed to sainthood.
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