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canonization (kănˌənĭzāˈshən), in the Roman Catholic Church, process by which a person is classified as a saint. It is now performed at Rome alone, although in the Middle Ages and earlier bishops elsewhere used to canonize. Beatification, by which a person is called blessed and his or her cult is approved, requires proof of a miracle through the candidate's intercession (unless the candidate for sainthood was martyred) and proof that the candidate's life was exemplary, and must precede canonization. A candidate for sainthood may be declared venerable before beatification if the person led an exemplary life. Canonization requires proof of at least one additional miracle (occurring after beatification) attributable to the saint.

Until 1983 the process of canonization was like a trial at which the saint was said to be defended by the church; a prosecutor was appointed to attack all evidence alleged in favor of canonization. The prosecutor was popularly called advocatus diaboli [devil's advocate], his opponent the advocatus Dei [God's advocate]. The process has now been streamlined, and the position of devil's advocate eliminated.

The first solemn canonization seems to have been that of St. Ulrich late in the 10th cent. The method of formal canonization was set by the enactments of Urban VIII that came into force in 1634. In the Orthodox Eastern Church, a synod of bishops within a self-governing church has the authority to canonize.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in the Catholic and Orthodox churches the inclusion of some person in the list of saints. In Catholicism it is an act that has been strictly defined with respect to law and public worship. The church-wide method of canonization was introduced by Pope Alexander III during the second half of the 12th century and was fixed in 1200 by Innocent III; the right to canonize became the exclusive prerogative of the Roman popes. In implementing canonization the church always pursues political aims.

Orthodoxy does not have as strict a system of canonization as Catholicism. In Russia church-wide canonization was introduced in the 16th century and was placed under the tsar’s control; from the time of Peter I it was implemented by imperial decree upon the recommendation of the synod.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Thousands of Catholics from the UK and around the world will attend a special Mass to beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman as Pope Benedict completes his British tour.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend a special Mass in the park on September 19, in which Pope Benedict XVI will beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman.
"We are happy to welcome you as the pope's envoy to head in his name the ceremony to beatify monk Estephan Nehmeh.
Vatican City -- In October, Pope Benedict will beatify almost 500 Spanish Civil War victims killed by anarchists and communists solely because of their Catholic faith.
He has designated cardinals to celebrate Masses to beatify people.
THE process to beatify Pope John Paul II, the first step towards possible sainthood, has begun with an edict inviting testimony from witnesses about his virtues.
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Jewish organizations criticized John Paul's decision to beatify Pius IX.
Cappelli Enterprises, in conjunction with the development of New Roc City, is undertaking a multi-million dollar capital improvement project that will help beatify and redefine the special character of New Rochelle.
Pope Benedict XVI will beatify Cardinal Newman in Birmingham on September 19.