Protestant with a question


Hey guys:

First of all, thanks for making me feel welcome around here.

My question is: how does the Church decide which saint presides over any given field of life? I hear about saints who are the guardians of lost objects, the throat, etc. and I wonder how the Church has the authority to decide the duties of Christians who are in Heaven.




Patronages are determined by the saint’s life usually. For the examples you gave, St. Blaise healed a boy with a fishbone in his throat and St. Anthony miraculously recovered a lost Bible and also restored lost limbs to the wounded.

So in that sense, since it is God who made them to be a certain way in life, it is he who determines the patronages. One might also say that the power of the keys, which bind in Heaven as well may account for this.

The simpler answer is that patronages determined by the Church only determine that Saints role in Heaven in the sense that the majority of the requests for intercession will have to do with that topic.


Brilliant answer.

I might follow up by asking how the canonization process is free from populism (i.e. millions calling for JPII’s sainthood v. “less popular” saints).


Oh, it’s definitely not. In fact, the vox populi (voice of the people) was the primary test for canonization in the early Church–and although the process is a bit more involved these days, it’s still the first step. Usually it is the local church where the saint lived that develops a devotion to him or her first. Beatification (declaring the saint “blessed”) is a permission for the local church to publicly venerate that saint–in other words in the official liturgy and calendar. Canonization, the final step, is the affirmative declaration that the saint is in Heaven (rather than a permission to believe so) and to be venerated as such by the universal Church–and then the Saint can be included in the universal calendar and liturgy.

The local bishop and ultimately the Pope are responsible for suppressing any popular veneration of individuals who may not be worthy of it (if their life was not an example of Christian virtue). However, the sensus fidei (sense of the faithful) is pretty good when it comes to this. I’m sure there are individuals here and there who stray, but I’ve never heard of an instance where the faithful were venerating someone that didn’t live a saintly life and had to have their devotion suppressed.:thumbsup:


Just a quick point. What you refer to as beatification is indeed the first step. However, in this case the Pope proclaims the virtue of the person in question, entitling them to be called “Venerable”. Beatification comes next. If the person was a martyr, they are automatically beatified. If not a martyr, there must be proof of one miracle being accomplished through the “candidate’s” intercession. They earn the title “Blessed”. The final step of canonization is proof of one more miracle. Of course, the person now has the title “Saint.”

The only example I can think of is St. Faustina. I believe her cult was suppressed while they were investigating her diary. Of course, it was Pope John Paul II who championed her cause way back when he was a bishop in Krakow.


Thanks mtr01. It is my understanding that a person declared “Venerable” means that their life displayed the necessary heroic virtue. Being declared “Blessed” is actually permission to believe they are in Heaven and to invoke their intercession in the public liturgy. Is that correct?

By the way, here is a pretty good explanation of these things from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (it’s about the rites used for beatification and canonization, but it gives a really good historical outline and explanation of these things):


Hmm, hmm…this is all brand-new to me! It seems like two miracles is somewhat arbitrary. I don’t mean any offense by that; I just wonder how that came about.

And does martyrdom count as a miracle, then?


Haha, it might just be arbitrary. The miracle is proof that the person isn’t in Hell–they probably chose two in case one is a fluke :stuck_out_tongue: .

And does martyrdom count as a miracle, then?

No, but it is the constant teaching of the Church (it’s inferred in Scripture various places too) that those who die for Christ are saved–it is also an act of heroic virtue. Martyrdom itself, therefore, is a sign the person is in Heaven as worthy as any miracle.


The way I understand it, beatification is as you say, but is not binding on the whole Church. In other words, the Church may simply permit public veneration, or prescribe it locally (e.g. the diocese to which the person belonged). When someone is canonized as a saint, it is binding on the whole Church, and a feast day may be added to the liturgical calendar.

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