About 24-hours ago, Pope Francis declared as saint, Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun who devoted her life to helping India’s poor in a canonisation Mass held at the Vatican.
At the canonisation mass, the pontiff read out the formula for the canonisation of the Late nun known for fighting against hunger throughout her life.
The question that follows the canonisation of the Albanian-born nun, known as the “saint of the gutters” is that how does one become a saint.
For Roman Catholics, the journey to sainthood begins way before the individual’s death.
1. First step in becoming a saint starts with the consideration of how the person lived his or her life while still alive. The person’s reputation and activities while they lived on earth would be given thorough examination to make sure it will not eventually bring the name of the church to disrepute.
2. The next step to becoming a saint which is usually the one seen by many as the first then starts at least five years after the death of the person under consideration for sainthood.
According to the Catholic Education Resource Center, when a person dies who has “fame of sanctity” or “fame of martyrdom,” the Bishop of the Diocese usually initiates the investigation.
3. Next, Miracles that have been linked to the individuals are investigated and ascertained.
For example, for Mother Teresa, the approved miracle involved Monica Besra, a 30-year-old Kolkata woman who said praying to the nun cured her of a stomach tumor. The Vatican committee who investigated the miracle said in October 2002 that it could find no “scientific explanation” for the woman’s recovery, CNN reported.
4. Next, the Church will investigate the candidate’s writings to see if they possess “purity of doctrine,” essentially, nothing heretical or against the Vatican faith.
“All of this information is gathered, and then a transumptum, a faithful copy, duly authenticated and sealed, is submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints,” CERC says.
Once the cause is accepted by the Congregation, further investigation is conducted to see if the candidate was motivated by a profound charity towards his neighbor, and practiced the virtues in an exemplary manner and with heroism. For the saint of the gutters, her Missionaries of Charity founded in 1950 is enough as evidence of her charity heroics.
Teresa’s charity foundation had over 4,500 sisters and was active in 133 countries. The organisation ran homes for people dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis; soup kitchens; dispensaries and mobile clinics; children’s and family counselling programmes; orphanages; and schools.
Throughout this investigation the “general promoter of the faith,” or devil’s advocate, raises objections and doubts which must be resolved. Once a candidate is declared to have lived life with heroic virtue, then the candidate may be declared Venerable.
5. The next step is beatification. The candidate must be credited with another miracle. For the Albanian-Indian nun, a second miracle involved a Brazilian man who was allegedly cured of multiple brain tumors after loved ones prayed to Mother Teresa to heal him, says The Wire.
In verifying the miracle, the Church looks at whether God truly performed a miracle and whether the miracle was in response to the intercession of the candidate saint.
Once beatified, the candidate saint may be venerated but with restriction to a city, diocese, region, or religious family. Accordingly, the Pope would authorize a special prayer, Mass, or proper Divine Office honoring the Blessed.
Then the saint candidate’s body long after death must be found to be free of decay when exhumed from the grave, the dried blood of the saint, long dead, should miraculously liquefy on the feast day and the body of the saint should exude sweet aroma, like roses, rather than the usual pungent stench of decay at least five years after death.