Is there a way to differentiate between saints?


This might seem a bit silly.

But there are those saints who are recorded as performing incredible miracles, such as St. Francis, St. Benedict and St. Padre Pio. And there are other saints who were recognized as being very pious, but did not relay miracles on a regular basis (for example, St. King Louis IX).

Is there a way to differentiate between them?


don’t know what you mean by differentiate, but just get a lives of the saints or go on-line and read their biographies. a saint is a saint not matter how small, and only needs the miracles after death for canonization and 2 will do.


The miracles that God works through an individual during his or her lifetime are not what make them saints. In fact, they are rarely considered for canonization.

The Church looks at the person’s life of faith and virtue. It decides whether the person lived a heroic Christian life. What comes under scrutiny is whether the person lived according to the Gospel in a manner that guarrantees that the person is in Heaven.

The title Saint is given to somene who is in Heaven. There is no comparison between one person and another. When a person’s life is studied that person’s life is compared to Christ’s life and teachings.

The only miracles that count for canonization are those that take place after the person’s death through that individual’s intercession. Even that requirement can be waved by the Holy Father. You mentioned Benedict and Francis. Benedict was never canonized. He was proclaimed a saint by through the voice of the people. At the time of his death, there was no formal canonization process. The people of God believed he was a saint and the Church confirmed it in her liturgy by including him in the liturgical life of the Church and in her public veneration. Francis was canonized less than two years after he died, by Pope Gregory IX, but there were no miracles required or even a study required. His life was so public and popular that Pope Gregory felt there was no need to go through any process and he canonized him.

Other saints are canonized in different ways, through tradition, such as the Apostles and our Blessed Mother, others through a formal process.

But in all, the differentiation between them is purely in personalities, their emphasis when living the Gospel, and their contribution to the Church at their time or afterward. These differences do not make saints bigger or lesser than each other. To assume this would be to offend the Holy Spirit.

When we speak about a “great saint” such as Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, Thomas Aquinas and others, we mean that they are better known and have had a more public impact on the Church, not that they are more saintly.

Teresa of Avila did write in her theology that there are degrees or levels in Heaven, but we are unsure of how this plays out, because she was writing in metaphors. It is difficult to say what she saw in her mystical visions.

Nonetheless, Teresa does not imply that there is a difference in one person’s sanctity and that of another person. What she is drawing from in the scriptures where the master pays the laborers their just wage and they complain because they have not been paid the same rate. Jesus responds that the lowest paid was paid the promised rate. Therefore he has been given what God promised. The other laborers were paid a rate that was higher than what the master promised, not because they were better, but because of the discretionary love of the master. Apparently, Teresa had visions and infused knowledge as to how this plays itself out in salvation and in Heaven. Thus she writes about different levels or degrees in Heaven.

But that being said, the difference there is not that one is less of a saint, but that one may have received a greater reward. Once the sould is in Heaven he is a saint.

You can compare the saints approach to the Gospel and how they lived it. You will find that some are more like Christ than others, but that’s because they go beyond what Christ commands, not because they are holier. This is a personal coice that is reflected in how they lived. You can also differentiate their emphasis. All of the saints focus on the Gospel. But they may stress one aspect of it more than another aspect. This does not mean that because Vincent de Paul expressed his great love for the poor he ignored the Gospel’s call to purity or to prayer. He lived the whole thing, but he stood out for his love of the poor. Francis of Assisi stands out for his love of Christ’s humility, but it does not mean that he did not love the Blessed Mother as did Maximilian Kolbe.

You have to read their lives and see that they are different personalities with different spiritual paths and different historical circumstances that influenced the way they lived the Gospel.


JR :slight_smile:


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