NPR logo Will They Become Saints? It'll Take A Miracle

Religion

Will They Become Saints? It'll Take A Miracle

Pope John Paul II will be beatified Sunday in Rome. That puts him just one step away from sainthood. For a candidate to be beatified, or declared "blessed," the Catholic Church generally must verify that God has performed a miracle because of the person's intercession. During John Paul's time as pope alone, more than 1,000 people were declared "blessed." For a person to become a saint, a second miracle is required. Here's a look at a few notable figures who are one miracle away from canonization:

  • Pope John Paul II (1920-2005): After the pope died in 2005, mourners who flocked to Rome shouted, "Santo Subito!" — "Sainthood now!" Usually, the process to become a saint doesn't even begin until five years after death. That requirement was waived for John Paul, shown here celebrating a beatification Mass in Maribor, Slovenia, in 1999.
    Hide caption
    Pope John Paul II (1920-2005): After the pope died in 2005, mourners who flocked to Rome shouted, "Santo Subito!" — "Sainthood now!" Usually, the process to become a saint doesn't even begin until five years after death. That requirement was waived for John Paul, shown here celebrating a beatification Mass in Maribor, Slovenia, in 1999.
    Gabriel Bouys/Getty Images/NPR
  • Mother Teresa (1910-1997): John Paul himself gave the same waiver to Mother Teresa, the nun famous for her work with the poor of India. The 1979 Nobel Peace Prize winner, shown here visiting Copenhagen in January 1980, was beatified in 2003 — just six years after her death.
    Hide caption
    Mother Teresa (1910-1997): John Paul himself gave the same waiver to Mother Teresa, the nun famous for her work with the poor of India. The 1979 Nobel Peace Prize winner, shown here visiting Copenhagen in January 1980, was beatified in 2003 — just six years after her death.
    Getty Images/NPR
  • Pope John XXIII (1881-1963): John XXIII raises his hand in blessing at the Vatican in 1958. He has been on a slower beatification track than John Paul — more common for a process that can often take decades. John XXIII was beatified in 2000, almost 40 years after his death. The popular pope was known for calling the Second Vatican Council, which ushered in liberalizing changes.
    Hide caption
    Pope John XXIII (1881-1963): John XXIII raises his hand in blessing at the Vatican in 1958. He has been on a slower beatification track than John Paul — more common for a process that can often take decades. John XXIII was beatified in 2000, almost 40 years after his death. The popular pope was known for calling the Second Vatican Council, which ushered in liberalizing changes.
    AP/NPR
  • Pope Pius IX (1792-1878): Pius, shown circa 1855 and beatified more than a century after his death, was the pope who oversaw the First Vatican Council. He was the church's longest-serving pope. The conservative Pius considered himself a prisoner of the Vatican after he lost control over the Papal States as Italy unified in the 19th century.
    Hide caption
    Pope Pius IX (1792-1878): Pius, shown circa 1855 and beatified more than a century after his death, was the pope who oversaw the First Vatican Council. He was the church's longest-serving pope. The conservative Pius considered himself a prisoner of the Vatican after he lost control over the Papal States as Italy unified in the 19th century.
    Hulton Archive/Getty Images/NPR
  • Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890): This undated portrait made available by the church shows the British intellectual, who was an Anglican priest before converting to Catholicism. He wrote many works of philosophy and theology, along with poems and hymns, and was beatified in 2010. In recent years, with Newman on the path to becoming a saint, some scholars have questioned whether he was gay...
    Hide caption
    Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890): This undated portrait made available by the church shows the British intellectual, who was an Anglican priest before converting to Catholicism. He wrote many works of philosophy and theology, along with poems and hymns, and was beatified in 2010. In recent years, with Newman on the path to becoming a saint, some scholars have questioned whether he was gay.
    Catholic Church, Ho/AP/NPR
  • Anna Katharina Emmerick (1774-1824): An account of the German nun's visions helped inspire Mel Gibson's controversial film The Passion of the Christ. Amid uncertainty over how much of the book was the author's embellishment, the Vatican set aside the visions' content during the beatification process and emphasized Emmerick's long suffering with illness. She was beatified in 2004; this pa...
    Hide caption
    Anna Katharina Emmerick (1774-1824): An account of the German nun's visions helped inspire Mel Gibson's controversial film The Passion of the Christ. Amid uncertainty over how much of the book was the author's embellishment, the Vatican set aside the visions' content during the beatification process and emphasized Emmerick's long suffering with illness. She was beatified in 2004; this painting of her is from 1895.
    via WikiCommons/NPR
  • Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680): The first North American Indian proposed for sainthood was beatified in 1980. Here, a stained glass window at the Holy Spirit Church in Atlanta, Ga., bears her image. Church officials have been investigating whether a boy's recovery from flesh-eating bacteria in Washington state in 2006 was a miracle attributable to Blessed Kateri.
    Hide caption
    Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680): The first North American Indian proposed for sainthood was beatified in 1980. Here, a stained glass window at the Holy Spirit Church in Atlanta, Ga., bears her image. Church officials have been investigating whether a boy's recovery from flesh-eating bacteria in Washington state in 2006 was a miracle attributable to Blessed Kateri.
    via Flickr/Andy Coan/NPR

1 of 7

View slideshow i

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.