« Canonical Hours Canonization Canstein, Karl Hildebrand, Baron von »


CANONIZATION: The process of attributing the title of saint to a man or woman already known as "blessed." The word refers to the inclusion of the person's name in the list (canon) of the saints and recognizing his right to a fitting veneration, which includes the setting apart of a day in the ecclesiastical calendar for the commemoration of the saint's feast, together with an office in the breviary and a mass for the day in his honor. To promote the veneration of a saint throughout the universal Church, no better method existed than to seek papal confirmation of his claims. This probably happened now and then even in early times, or the popes gave such confirmation of their own motion. We have definite evidence of the formal canonization of Bishop Ulric of Augsburg in 993. But canonization as a right reserved exclusively to the pope appears first under Alexander III. (1159–81). The bishops continued to feel justified in canonizing for their own dioceses, until this was declared unlawful by Urban VIII, in 1625 and 1634. At present a formal and very carefully regulated process is gone through before canonization. The candidate, having died in good repute, is first designated as "of pious memory," and when a regular investigation has been set on foot, as "venerable." If it is conclusively shown that he has lived a holy life and worked miracles, his beatification may be requested, but normally not until fifty years after his death. The process is first conducted by the bishop of his home; a commission of the Congregation of Rites examines whether it is permissible, in which case papal authority to proceed is granted. In order to make the necessary demonstration that the candidate possessed "heroic" virtues and worked miracles, three separate investigations are held—one before the Congregation of Rites, one before the whole college of cardinals, and one before a consistory held under the pope's presidency. When the pope has approved the request, a brief is drawn up which grants the title of beatus, and determines the limits of the consequent cultus, including commemoration and invocation in public worship, the erection of altars, public exposition of relics, and the like. The solemn publication of the decree of beatification takes place in St. Peter's. After repeated miracles and a similar process of investigation, canonization may follow later, with still more imposing ceremonies, the pope or his representative singing high mass in honor of the new saint. While the veneration of the "blessed " is limited to a certain definite part of the Roman Catholic Church, that of the saints is extended to the entire Church.

(N. Bonwetsch.)

Bibliography: Giusto Fontanini, Codex constitutionum quas summi pontifices ediderunt in solemni canonizatione, 993–1729, Rome, 1729; W. Hurd, Religious Rites and Ceremonies, p. 244, London, 1811; C. Elliott, Delineation of Roman Catholicism, book iv., chap. 4, New York, 1842; Boissonnet, Dictionnaire . . . des cérémonies . . . sacrées, in Migne, Encyclopédie théolgique, xv.–xvii.; L. Ferraris, Prompta bibliotheca canonica, s.v. "Veneratio Sanctorum," new ed., Rome, 1844–45.

« Canonical Hours Canonization Canstein, Karl Hildebrand, Baron von »
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