29 November 2009

Recognizing a Saint: Part 3 of 5

29 NOVEMBER 2009. This third installment in the series examines the next step in the Church's process of recognizing a saint: the declaration of the candidate as Venerable.

Following the transfer of the candidate's information to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the postulator continues to collect information. When enough information has been gathered, the Congregation will recommend to the Pope that a proclamation be issued recognizing the Servant of God's heroic virtue. This proclamation confirms that the Servant of God has exhibited the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity and the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance, all to a heroic degree in her or his earthly life.

If the Holy Father gives his consent, a proclamation of heroic virtue is issued by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, declaring the candidate a "Venerable Servant of God." No special ceremony surrounds the issuance of the proclamation.

For Knights of Columbus, we know that Father Michael J. McGivney, our founder, was declared a Venerable Servant of God under Pope Benedict XVI on 5 March 2008.

While a Venerable still has no feast day, and no churches may be built in his or her honor--as the Church has still not made an official statement of its belief that the person is indeed in heaven--prayer cards and other printed materials may be distributed to encourage the faithful to pray for a miracle, wrought by the intercession of the Venerable, as a sign of God's will that the Church recognize the Venerable as a saint. As an example, the Father Michael J. McGivney Guild, which was formed to promote Father McGivney's canonization, provides a prayer for his canonization here.

After the declaration of "Venerable Servant of God," the next step in the Church's process is beatification, which will be examined in the next installment of this series.

IMAGE: Father Michael J. McGivney

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