Do candidates for Sainthood keep their titles if they don't "make the cut"?


If for some reason a person who is in the process of being accepted into sainthood is not elected what happens to whatever title they earn? For example, would JPII keep his title of venerable if he wasn’t canonized for some reason?

I know VERY little about the canonization process, so this might be a dumb question. :blush:


It’s not a dumb question, it’s a very good question.

The canonization process may take centuries, and titles like “Servant of God”, “Venerable”, and “Blessed” are milestones along the way. If Bl. John Paul II had not had the necessary miracle or whatnot to be canonized, he would remain Bl. John Paul II. But that does not mean that in the next 10, 100, or even 1000 years some sign might be given that he was indeed a saint, and his canonization would be complete.

A candidate for sainthood might never make it out of the “minors”, but he’ll never get “benched”. :smiley:


The four titles one receives through the process of canonization are;Servant of God, Venerable, Blessed, and Saint. The only one that would ever be likely to be removed(although it would be unlikely) is Servant of God. The title of Blessed means that one miracle has been proven to be attributed to a venerable person and this declaration is an infallible declaration by the Pope. Saint means two miracles have been attributed and proven to be from the person and this too is infallible from the Pope. Since these two declarations are infallible they cannot be removed(and there would be no reason for them to be removed being that we know they are true through infallibility). The other two stages have to do with whether the person lived a life of heroic virtue or whether they suffered martyrdom. The Servant of God title is given to a person after the Bishop does an initial sort of “background” check to ensure there are no obviously, overtly, or obstinately scandalous things about the person in regards to their life and faith. The Bishop will then petition the Holy See for the cause to be officially opened in which the Holy See too will ensure that there is nothing obviously scandalous about the person. If the Holy See gives the Nihil Obstat(Nothing Hinders) then the person is given the title Servant of God. After this follows an often long period of extremely thorough investigation and analysis of the person’s whole life or martyrdom. This investigation happens first at the diocesan level and then again at the Holy See ending with the Pope’s decision on whether the person lived a life of heroic virtue or whether they indeed were a martyr. The Pope’s decision is final and if the Pope agrees that the person was a martyr or lived a life of heroic virtue the person is then declared Venerable. If the Pope or at any time of the investigation it is concluded that the person was not a martyr or did not live a life or heroic virtue the title of Servant of God would be removed. Once the title of Venerable has been bestowed upon the person you can be assured that the title has been correctly bestowed as the investigation of the person’s life or martyrdom is extremely thorough. The title Servant of God is the only title that is given before a conclusive investigation happens and therefore something contrary to the faith could(although it would be unlikely) be found about the person and that would remove the title Servant of God. However, the other three titles are conclusive and would not be removed. Also a person could sit “stuck” at one of the steps indefinitely(this is quite common) though this would not change their title. For example, someone who has been declared Venerable will stay with that title unless and until a miracle through their intercession has occurred and been approved which can take anywhere from years to centuries to an indefinite period of time but that would not make them any less Venerable. Also John Paul II’s title is Blessed as he has had one miracle infallibly declared and of course a second now approved.


Very through, but the million dollar question is, “when do we know they are in Heaven?” Saint? Blessed? Venerable? Servant of God? I’d surmise, based on the above, that Servant of God is out (it could be revoked after all) and obviously all Saints are in Heaven. But, what about the Blesseds and the Venerables? Are they too definitely in Heaven? Or should we still be praying for the repose of their souls?


In Latin, the four stages:

Servus (serva) Dei
Beatus, beata
Sanctus, sancta


A candidate for sainthood always keep his title. For example, if a person never got past Servant of God, then he would keep that title until the Last Judgement.

Just to note, John Paul II holds the title of Blessed, not Servant of God. :thumbsup:


Thanks to each of you! I learned something new, which always makes me happy!



Beatification does not enjoy the Church’s understanding of infallibility. Canonization does.


Tibi ago gratias, non schia qui vicipedia in lingua latina est.


Generally, this is true, but I can think of one possible exception: Leon Dehon.

In 2005 he was about to be Beatified, but it was postponed because the Pope died.

But when Benedict XVI became Pope, he canceled it totally and ordered a deeper investigation into Dehon. After he was declared venerable, writings of him surfaced that were anti-Semitic. If they were out there before, I doubt he would have ever gotten to the Venerable stage.

I don’t know what his technical status is now, but this is one rare example of an incomplete examination. I can’t find any resource stating that the Venerable title has been rescinded, but I wouldn’t find it unimaginable.


They can keep whatever title they have been given. Who knows, maybe that final miracle will happen centuries later.


How would JP2 name be read during the Litany of the Saints then? Would it be “Saint John Paul” without or with the “second”. Etc.

Also what about “Saint John the 23rd”?


I have seen them written Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Saint John XXIII.


Some are pushing for Pope St John Paul the Great. I’m fine with that, but I don’t see it happening. We live in a time which too quickly moves on to the latest craze and is too willing to forget the recent past. We also live in a time where shorter monikers are preferred. It’s more likely that people will say “St JP2”, than roll out “Pope St John Paul the Great”


The question was about a possible use of soon-to-be Saint John Paul’s name in the litany of saints. There are several “official” versions, including the stand-alone litany, which is one of only four litanies approved for public use. There is also the version used at the Easter Vigil (slightly different in its EF and OF versions), a shorter one used at baptism and confirmation, and another short form that can be used as part of the funeral rites. There is no guarantee that his name would specifically be listed in any of these, but there are options in the shorter forms to insert saints of one’s choosing, so certainly it could be used there.

Which form of a canonized pope’s name is used depends on the context. When speaking and generally referring to them, they are referred to by their names, such as St. Piux V, St. Pius X, etc. In this context, it would be St. John Paul II. When popes as a group, whether canonized or not, are being listed, and various popes being referred to in their capacity as supreme pontiffs, then it is common to see them referred to as Pope St. Pius X, Blessed Pius IX, etc. But in prayers and the litany, no numerals are used, and no soubriquets such as “the Great.” St. Gregory the Great is not called that in his Mass or in the litany, just St. Gregory.


Learn something every day.

closed #17

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit