Santo Subito! St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII
“Santo Subito!” – which means ” Sainthood Now!” in Italian – was enthusiastically chanted by people gathered from all around the world at St. Peter’s Square on the day of Pope John Paul II’s funeral, April 8th, 2005. Without a doubt, Pope John Paul II was a holy and saintly man of God, and people almost instinctively recognized it, but could the Catholic Church declare his sainthood, or the sainthood of others, for that matter, that soon, as soon as the person’s funeral?
The Process of Canonization:
One of the common misconceptions about the Catholic Church is the canonization of saints. People mistakenly believe that the Catholic Church creates saints at her whim, often mingled with political interest. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The process of canonization is a formal process by which the Catholic Church decides with certainty that the person who is being considered is truly a saint – a saint is someone who is in heaven.
In short, the Church does not produce saints; God does! And all that the Church does, through a formal process, is formally and publicly recognizing that person to be in heaven. So here are the steps that are involved in the process of canonization.
(1) Local Bishop investigates the person’s life – studying information gathered by witnesses and materials written by the candidate;
(2) Congregation for the Causes of Saints accepts the application & begins their own investigation
(3) The Congregation for the Causes of Saints approves the candidate by declaring that the person lived a life of heroic virtue and pursued holiness while on earth;
(4) First miracle –proof of a miracle, usually a healing, that took place through the intercession of that person: healing has to be instantaneous, permanent, and complete, while also being scientifically unexplainable by a group of independent doctors; then the person is approved by a panel of theologians; then approval is given by the Pope; the person then is declared a “Blessed”;
(5) Second Miracle –same scrutiny as the first miracle. When the second miracle is approved, the person is declared a “Saint”
Who can become a saint?
In one of the Second Vatican Council’s document, Lumen Gentium, all are called to holiness: “Universal Call to Holiness.” This is because God wills all to be saved. Saints are not bunch of bored people sitting on clouds in heaven. Saints are those who have faithfully collaborated with God’s will and His plan of salvation during their earthly life, and are even more active in heaven; they are closer to God than we are, which means their prayers and actions are more powerful and effective than ours.
Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II’s declaration of Sainthood on Divine Mercy Sunday is especially meaningful as Pope John Paul II helped to introduce and promote Divine Mercy Sunday throughout the Universal Church. God calls all to holiness of life and sainthood. But He would not do such a thing unless He has a plan to bring His plan to fulfillment! “Santo Subito! St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II!” Hopefully, one day we will be in their company!