How are saints made? A primer on miracles, martyrs, virtues

Source: Associated Press

By NICOLE WINFIELD

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Lengthy historic investigations. Decrees of “heroic virtues.” Miraculous cures.

The Vatican’s complicated saint-making process has long fascinated Catholics and non-Catholics alike, and will be on display Saturday when Pope Francis canonizes two children whose “visions” of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago turned the sleepy farming town of Fatima into a major Catholic pilgrimage site.

Francis recently reformed the process to address financial abuses that had long tarnished the Vatican’s saint-making machine, but the basic criteria remain.

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HOW ARE SAINTS MADE?

A postulator – essentially the cheerleader spearheading the project – gathers testimony and documentation and presents the case to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. If the congregation’s experts agree the candidate lived a virtuous life, the case is forwarded to the pope, who signs a decree attesting to the candidate’s “heroic virtues.”

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