April 25th, 2014
11:41 AM ET

How the Catholic Church makes saints

By John L. Allen, Jr. and Daniel Burke

(CNN) - On Sunday, for the first time in history, the Catholic Church will canonize two popes on the same day.

Pope Francis will preside over a special ceremony that is expected to draw upwards of a million pilgrims, who will gather in St. Peter's Square to witness Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII enter the celestial community of Catholic saints.

Here's a bit about the Catholic Church's canonization process.

What is a saint, and how many are there?

Catholics believe a saint is someone who lived a holy life and who’s already in heaven. Saints are considered role models for people still on Earth, and are capable of interceding with God on someone’s behalf when a request for help is made in prayer.

The actual number of saints is impossible to calculate. One well-known work called "Lives of the Saints" lists 2,565 Catholic saints, but that doesn’t count thousands of others celebrated in local regions all over the world. The Catholic Church has a feast, All Saints’ Day, on November 1 to honor the countless saints who aren’t formally canonized.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Leaders • Miracles • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope Francis • Pope John Paul II • Vatican

Case of Boys Town founder shows long road to making a saint
Edward Flanagan, whom supporters are trying to make a saint, visiting Boys Town in 1942.
March 9th, 2012
10:23 PM ET

Case of Boys Town founder shows long road to making a saint

By Jen Christensen, CNN

(CNN) - Surrounded by TV cameras and an excited crowd, the archbishop of Omaha, Nebraska, taped a notice to the doors of St. Cecilia’s Church last week announcing to the world that his archdiocese was launching a formal process to try to elevate one of its most famous members to Catholicism’s highest honor.

Archbishop George Lucas wants the Vatican to recognize Father Edward J. Flanagan as a saint.

As the founder of Boys Town – the famous Nebraska community for at-risk kids – Flanagan radically transformed how people handle troubled youth. He is known for the saying, “There are no bad boys. There is only bad environment, bad training, bad example, bad thinking.”

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But just because someone does good doesn’t entitle that person to be a saint, at least in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church. Many faiths have their saints, but attaining sainthood may be hardest in the Catholic Church.

By posting a notice about Flanagan, the Omaha archdiocese is embarking on a complicated legal, scientific and surprisingly expensive journey that could take over 100 years to accomplish – if sainthood is achieved at all.

“To be recognized as a saint these days, it may cost upwards of $1 million,” said Steven Wolf, the lead volunteer and president of the Father Flanagan League Society of Devotion. “You essentially need it to pay for a good lawyer and an expensive multi-media campaign.”


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Miracles • Nebraska • Pope Benedict XVI

May 1st, 2011
10:02 AM ET

Pope John Paul II declared 'blessed' before huge crowds

Vatican City (CNN) - Catholic faithful from around the world poured into Rome on Sunday as the Catholic Church declares Pope John Paul II "blessed," a step below sainthood.

There were cheers as Pope Benedict XVI personally beatified his predecessor, and a huge tapestry protrait of John Paul II was unveiled, showing him as the healthy, vigorous and relatively young man he was early in his papacy.

A vial of John Paul II's blood was placed before the crowds, which were expected to be the largest in the Vatican since the late pope's funeral in 2005.

Read the full story of the pope's beatification

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Miracles • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope John Paul II • Vatican

May 1st, 2011
08:39 AM ET

Pope Benedict XVI's homily of beatification for John Paul II

Pope Benedict XVI personally pronounced his predecessor John Paul II Sunday to be among the blessed, one step below sainthood, in a Mass attended by more than a million in Rome.

Declaring that the angels and saints in heaven were themselves celebrating, he praised John Paul's strength, will and holiness in the following words:

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Six years ago we gathered in this Square to celebrate the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Our grief at his loss was deep, but even greater was our sense of an immense grace which embraced Rome and the whole world: a grace which was in some way the fruit of my beloved predecessor's entire life, and especially of his witness in suffering.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Mass • Miracles • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope John Paul II • Vatican • Virgin Mary

'Holy dirt' in the hills of New Mexico
April 22nd, 2011
12:01 AM ET

'Holy dirt' in the hills of New Mexico

By William Walker, CNN

Chimayo, New Mexico (CNN) - El Santuario de Chimayo, the Roman Catholic adobe mission church set in these hills of northern New Mexico, dates from 1816.

Here, on Good Friday night around 1810, a Chimayo friar reportedly found a miraculous crucifix glowing on the ground near the Santa Cruz River. The church is built on the site of the reported discovery.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Easter • Holidays • Miracles • New Mexico

Vatican warns of papal ticket scams
Huge crowds are expected in St. Peter's Square for John Paul II's beatification in May.
February 21st, 2011
02:21 PM ET

Vatican warns of papal ticket scams

(CNN) - The Vatican is warning people who plan to travel to the beatification of Pope John Paul II to look out for scammers claiming to sell tickets for the ceremony.

"It is very important to make as clear as possible that no tickets are needed to attend the beatification of John Paul II," said monsignor Guido Marini, master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, according to Vatican Radio.

As in life, John Paul is drawing huge crowds after his death. Two million pilgrims are expected to flock to the Vatican for the special Mass, which will be presided over by Pope Benedict XVI and take place in St. Peter's Square on May 1 - the first Sunday after Easter.

Read the full story here about the ticket scam.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Church • Europe • Italy • Mass • Miracles • Vatican

February 3rd, 2011
03:46 PM ET

About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.