Belief in brief: All Saints Day

Sunday, October 15, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:40 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Roman Catholic Church will recognize more than 10,000 holy people who have contributed to the church in numerous ways on Nov. 1, All Saints Day.

The celebration of inspirational individuals in the church began before 100 A.D., but the formal canonization process was not implemented until the year 1234.


Following the death of a member of the Catholic Church who was thought to have lived an extremely holy life, there is a five-year waiting period before the church can investigate his or her life. Pope John Paul II reformed the Code of Canon Law in 1983 to allow the current pope to waive this waiting period, as was done with Mother Teresa. The bishop of the diocese where the person was a member appoints an advocate, called a postular, to represent the candidate and begin researching and examining his or her life and work in the community and church.

After gathering testimonials advocating the beatification of the candidate, the postular proffers the information to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, a group of cardinals, bishops and theologians formed by the Vatican. If its members deem the information valid, the pope considers the findings and can declare the person “venerable.”


The next step in acquiring sainthood requires proof that the candidate was a martyr for the church or that a miracle occurred because a church member appealed to the venerated candidate for help. After meeting this requirement, the candidate is proclaimed “blessed” by the pope, and a diocese, city or region may honor him or her.


The final test in sainthood is verifying the presence of an additional miracle that occurred after any candidate’s beatification. The pope then declares the candidate a saint who lived a life that should be honored and imitated by Catholics.

Locally, Masses will be celebrated Nov. 1 in honor of the saints at 6 p.m. at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 1115 Locust St., and at 6:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. at Our Lady of Lourdes, 903 Bernadette Drive.


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