Sure, you hold doors open for old ladies, rescue cats stuck in trees, and maybe even think about saving the whales — but becoming a saint is a lengthy process that can span decades. Here’s the rundown:
• First, you live a life dedicated to moral probity, public service and, yes, a little backroom politicking just to be sure everyone knows how good you are.
• You die.
• A local bishop investigates your life and writings, dispatching the findings to the Vatican.
• A panel of theologians and cardinals examines your life.
• If the panel approves, the pope proclaims you venerable, meaning you are a role model of Catholic virtues. Yes, little ol’ you!
• Next comes beatification, which allows you to be honored by a particular group or region. In order to beatify you, someone has to document a posthumous miracle that’s linked to you. The only way to avoid this step is to be declared a martyr — someone who died for his or her religious cause. Good luck with that!
• To become a saint, a second posthumous miracle must be proven. This became a bit easier in 1983, when Pope John Paul II did away with the “Devil’s advocate” — the person who would have attacked your candidacy.
• Survive the process and you’ll be canonized at a special mass in your honor. Congrats!
— Gary Buiso