The process to become a saint is long and arduous.
Usually someone must wait at least five years after their death before they are considered for Sainthood, although this can be waived by the Pope.
The rationale is the ‘five year rule’ acts as cooling off period allowing a person’s case to be evaluated objectively.
This has been waived in the process of some, Mother Teresa died in 1997 and the process to her Sainthood began in 1999, and Pope Benedict XVI set aside the waiting period for his predecessor, John Paul II.
However others, such as Saint Bede, had to wait 1,164 years after his death before he became a saint.
The second step is to ‘become a servant of God’.
Once the five years have passed, the bishop of the diocese where the person died can open up an investigation into the individual’s life and decides if they are sufficiently holy to be put forward for sainthood.
Evidence in then gathered on the person, including witness accounts of how the person acted during their life.
If enough evidence if gathered, the bishop then asks the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to make a recommendation to the Pope for permission to open the case.
As soon as the case is accepted for consideration, the individual is called a ‘servant of God.’
Once this happens, proof of a life of ‘heroic virtue’ needs to be shown.
The Congregation for the Causes of Saints will look over evidence of the deceased.
If this is approved, the case is then passed to the Pope.
It is then up to the Pope to decide if that the person lived a life of ‘heroic virtue’ and become ‘venerable’.
The next stage is beatification.
For an individual to achieve beatification they need to have a miracle attributed to prayers made to them after their death.
If the prayers have been granted, they are used to prove that the deceased is in prison and therefore able to interceded with God on the behalf of those on earth.
However, the miracle requirement is waived in the case of a martyr – someone who died for their faith.
Once they’ve been beatified, the candidate is then given the title ‘blessed’.
The final step to sainthood is Canonisation.
To reach this stage, they need a second miracle attributed to prayers made to them after they’ve been beatified.
Martyrs, however, only need one verified miracle, post-beatification, to become a saint.