How Many Saints Are Canonized Each Year? Exploring the Annual Numbers

Did you know that the Catholic Church canonizes dozens of new saints each year? It’s true! In fact, in 2020 alone, the Church recognized 53 new saints. These individuals range from priests and nuns to laypeople who were martyred for their faith. While some of these new saints were declared by Pope Francis himself, others were recognized through individual dioceses and other religious bodies.

It’s fascinating to consider how the Church identifies and recognizes these holy men and women. The process of canonization involves careful investigation into the individual’s life and works, and often involves testimony from witnesses and experts in their respective fields. Once a person has been determined to have lived a life of extraordinary virtue and holiness, they are declared a saint and venerated as a model Christian.

But what does it mean to be a saint in modern times? While many of us may view sainthood as something reserved for the distant past, the canonization of new saints each year serves as a reminder that holiness is not an outdated concept. Rather, it is something that each of us can strive for in our daily lives, through acts of charity, humility, and devotion. Whether we are Catholic or not, there is much we can learn from the extraordinary lives of these newly canonized saints.

History of canonization

Canonization is the process by which an individual is declared a saint by the Catholic Church. The practice of canonization has evolved over time, with different criteria and procedures being used throughout history.

In the early days of Christianity, there was no formal canonization process. Local bishops or other church authorities would declare individuals to be saints based on their reputation for holiness and the miracles attributed to them. This changed in the 10th century when Pope John XV established the first formal canonization process, requiring a thorough investigation of the candidate’s life and miracles.

Over the centuries, the criteria for canonization became more stringent. In the 16th century, Pope Sixtus V established the Congregation of Rites to oversee the canonization process and ensure that the rules were followed uniformly. In 1983, Pope John Paul II revised the process even further, requiring evidence of two miracles before declaring an individual a saint.

The number of saints canonized each year has also varied throughout history. In the early days of Christianity, many saints were declared locally, with only a few being recognized throughout the entire Church. As the canonization process became more formalized, the number of saints declared each year generally decreased. However, there have been some exceptions, with large numbers of saints being canonized during certain periods of history.

Factors Affecting the Number of Saints Canonized

  • The criteria for canonization, which have become more stringent over time
  • The availability of documentation and evidence, which can influence the investigation process
  • The priorities of individual popes and the Church as a whole
  • The level of public interest in particular saints or causes

Recent Trends in Canonizations

Over the past century, the number of saints canonized each year has varied widely. During the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, there was a significant increase in the number of canonizations. Between 1978 and 2005, John Paul II canonized 482 individuals, more than all of the previous popes combined.

Since then, the number of saints canonized each year has decreased somewhat. Pope Benedict XVI declared 44 individuals to be saints during his papacy from 2005 to 2013, while Pope Francis has declared 29 individuals to be saints since his election in 2013.

Number of Saints Canonized Each Year

Year Number of Saints Canonized
2020 7
2019 5
2018 7
2017 35
2016 6

The number of saints canonized each year continues to fluctuate, depending on a variety of factors both within and outside the Church. However, the canonization process remains an important means of recognizing the holiness of individuals and their contribution to the life of the Church.

The Canonization Process

The Catholic Church has a stringent process for canonization, which is the process of recognizing a person as a saint. It is an involved process that starts with the candidate being declared a “Servant of God.” From there, they move up to the ranks of “Venerable” and “Blessed” before they can be declared a saint.

Here are the steps involved in the canonization process:

  • Step 1: Servant of God – The process begins at the diocesan level, with the local bishop investigating the candidate’s life and reputation. If there is enough evidence of holiness and virtue, the bishop can petition Rome to allow the candidate to be investigated for sainthood. Once this is granted, the candidate is declared a Servant of God.
  • Step 2: Venerable – The next step is a thorough investigation into the candidate’s life, teachings, and writings. If the evidence shows that the candidate lived a life of heroic virtue, they can be declared Venerable.
  • Step 3: Blessed – To be declared Blessed, the candidate must have performed a miracle. This miracle must be verified by a commission of theologians and physicians, and it must be attributed to the intercession of the candidate. Once the miracle is verified, the candidate can be beatified and referred to as “Blessed.”
  • Step 4: Saint – To be canonized as a saint, a second miracle must occur and be verified by the Vatican. This miracle is seen as proof that the candidate is in heaven and able to intercede for the faithful. Once this miracle is verified, the Pope can declare the candidate a saint.

It is important to note that the canonization process can take decades, if not centuries, to complete. Additionally, the process can be halted at any point if new evidence comes to light that casts doubt on the candidate’s virtue.

The number of saints canonized each year varies, as it depends on the number of candidates being investigated and the speed at which their causes progress. In recent years, the number has ranged from as few as two to as many as ten. It is a solemn and prayerful process that reminds us of the Church’s deep reverence for those who have lived lives of heroic virtue and have been recognized as examples of holiness for all Catholics to follow.

Overall, the canonization process is a thorough and deliberate undertaking that ensures that only those who truly lived lives of heroic virtue are recognized as saints. It is a rigorous process that is intended to inspire us all to strive for holiness in our own lives.

Step in the Canonization Process Requirements Result
Servant of God Local bishop investigation and Vatican approval Candidate is declared Servant of God
Venerable Heroic virtue demonstrated through thorough investigation Candidate is declared Venerable
Blessed One verified miracle attributed to candidate’s intercession Candidate is beatified and referred to as Blessed
Saint Two verified miracles attributed to candidate’s intercession Candidate is canonized as a saint

The above table outlines the requirements for each step in the canonization process. It is a testament to the Church’s reverence for those who have lived lives of heroic virtue, and the rigorous standards that must be met before someone can be recognized as a saint.

Famous Saints

Throughout history, there have been numerous individuals who have been canonized as saints due to their exceptional devotion and spirituality. Many of these individuals are widely recognized and celebrated, not just within the Christian faith but also across the world for their selflessness, compassion, and commitment to the betterment of society.

  • Saint Francis of Assisi – This 13th-century Italian friar and preacher is known for his love of animals and nature, as well as his commitment to poverty and simplicity. He founded the Franciscan order and is often depicted with birds and other animals.
  • Saint Teresa of Calcutta – Also known as Mother Teresa, this Albanian-Indian nun dedicated her life to serving the sick and dying in India. She founded the Missionaries of Charity and was known as the “saint of the gutters” for her work with the poorest of the poor.
  • Saint Joan of Arc – A 15th-century French warrior and mystic, Joan of Arc led the French army to several victories during the Hundred Years’ War before being captured and executed. She is considered a national heroine of France and continues to inspire people around the world.

These are just a few examples of the many famous saints who have been canonized throughout history. Their stories continue to inspire people of all faiths and backgrounds to live a life of service and devotion.

In modern times, the process of canonization has become more regulated and formalized by the Catholic Church. To be considered for sainthood, an individual must meet certain criteria, including evidence of heroic virtue, miracles attributed to their intercession, and widespread veneration within the Church. Despite this more rigorous process, there continue to be new saints added to the official roster each year.

Year Number of Saints Canonized
2019 7
2018 4
2017 35
2016 12

As we can see from the table above, while the number of saints canonized each year may vary, there are always new individuals being recognized for their exemplary lives and devotion to God. Whether they are well-known figures or more obscure individuals, they continue to inspire us to pursue lives of love, service, and faith.

Patron saints

Patron saints are those who are considered by the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations to be the heavenly protectors of particular people, occupations, or places. Each saint is typically associated with a specific cause or group of people, and they are called upon to intercede on behalf of those they protect.

Every year, numerous individuals are honored and canonized by the Catholic Church as patron saints. These individuals must first be recognized for their exceptional and holy lives, undergo a rigorous review process by the Church, and then be officially canonized through a formal declaration by the Pope.

Well-known patron saints

  • Saint Anthony of Padua: known as the patron saint of lost articles and lost people.
  • Saint Christopher: known as the patron saint of travelers, motorists, and bus drivers.
  • Saint Jude: known as the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes.

Numbers of patron saints

While it is difficult to put an exact number on the amount of patron saints canonized each year, it is estimated that the Catholic Church canonizes around 10 individuals per year. These individuals typically include saints who have been recognized for their exceptional lives and contributions to the Church.

The process of canonization is a long and complex one, with many individuals being considered for sainthood each year. The vast majority of these individuals are not ultimately canonized due to evidence suggesting that they may not have met the Church’s strict criteria for canonization.

Patron saints table

Patron saint Occupation/group
Saint Agnes Rape victims
Saint Francis of Assisi Ecology and animal rights
Saint Joseph Carpenters and stepfathers

These patron saints are just a small sample of the hundreds of individuals canonized by the Catholic Church and recognized as protectors of various causes and groups.

Controversies surrounding canonization

Canonization is a process of recognizing an individual as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. The process involves rigorous examination of the life, writings, and miracles of the individual. However, controversies have always surrounded the process of canonization. Here are some of the most notable controversies:

  • Political Influences: The influence of politics on the canonization process is one of the most controversial issues. Historically, the canonization process has been marred by political influences. Popes have been accused of using the process to advance political agendas.
  • Commercialization: Another controversy surrounding canonization is commercialization. In today’s world, the canonization process has become a big business. The sale of saint relics and images has become a multi-million-dollar industry. This has led to questions about the authenticity of some of the relics and images on sale.
  • Miracles: The requirement of miracles for canonization has also been a subject of controversy. The Church requires at least two miracles to be attributed to a candidate’s intercession. However, skeptics have argued that miracles are not scientifically verifiable and are often unproven.
  • Political Correctness: The influence of political correctness is also noticeable in the process of canonization. The Church has been accused of overlooking some saints who may not fit into the current definition of political correctness. For instance, some saints who were known for their harsh rhetoric towards non-believers may not be considered for canonization today.
  • Speed of Canonization: Finally, the speed of canonization has been raised as an issue. Some critics argue that the speed at which some candidates are canonized raises questions about the thoroughness of the process. While some candidates have taken decades and even centuries to be canonized, others have been canonized within just a few years of their death.

Miracles attributed to saints

Miracles attributed to saints are an important factor in the process of canonization. The Catholic Church requires at least two confirmed miracles to be attributed to a person before they can be declared a saint. These miracles can be healings or other supernatural occurrences that cannot be explained by science or medicine.

The process for verifying miracles requires rigorous investigation and scrutiny. The person seeking the miracle must provide evidence of their ailment or affliction before the miracle and proof that they were healed after. A team of medical experts and theologians review the case to determine if it meets the criteria for a miracle.

  • Miracles are typically attributed to saints who lived in the medieval period or later. This is because there are often more reliable historical records from this time period that can be used to verify the miracles.
  • In recent years, there has been a decrease in the number of miracles attributed to saints. This is due in part to a change in the way miracles are evaluated. The Vatican now requires a higher standard of evidence to confirm a miracle, which has made the process more difficult.
  • In 2019, Pope Francis canonized five new saints, including John Henry Newman, an English theologian, and Giuseppina Vannini, an Italian nun. Each of these saints had at least two miracles attributed to them, which were verified through the rigorous process outlined above.

Miraculous healings

Some of the most commonly reported miracles attributed to saints are miraculous healings. These can range from physical healings, such as the curing of cancer or paralysis, to mental or emotional healings, such as relief from depression or anxiety.

One famous example of a miraculous healing attributed to a saint is the case of Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, a French nun who was cured of Parkinson’s disease after praying to Pope John Paul II. Her healing was confirmed by medical experts and theologians, and was one of the miracles that led to John Paul II’s canonization in 2014.

Year Number of Saints Canonized
2015 6
2016 7
2017 35
2018 7
2019 5

In recent years, the number of saints canonized each year has been relatively low, typically around six to seven per year. However, this can vary depending on a number of factors, including the number of causes for canonization that are under review, the availability of evidence for miracles, and the priorities of the Holy See.

Non-canonized saints

While the process of canonization is rigorous and involves thorough investigation, not all those who are deemed holy by the people are formally canonized by the Church. Here are some examples of non-canonized saints:

  • Folk saints: These are individuals who are venerated by local communities, but whose holiness has not been officially recognized by the Church. These saints are often associated with particular regions, cultures, or practices. Examples of folk saints include San La Muerte, the “Saint of Death” in Mexico, and Saint Sarah, the patron saint of the Romani people.
  • Mystic saints: These are individuals who have had mystical experiences or visions, and are often associated with miracles or spiritual insights. Though they may be venerated by some Catholics, their holiness has not been officially confirmed by the Church. Examples of mystic saints include Saint Bridget of Sweden and Saint Catherine of Siena.
  • Visionary saints: These are individuals who have claimed to receive messages or visions from God or the saints, and are often associated with prophetic or apocalyptic writings. Though their writings may be considered spiritually inspiring, their holiness has not been confirmed by the Church. Examples of visionary saints include Saint Hildegard von Bingen and Saint John of Patmos, the author of the Book of Revelation.

It’s important to note that the Church may eventually recognize some of these individuals as saints, as happened with Saint Joan of Arc, who was venerated by the people but not recognized by the Church until many years after her death.

How Many Saints are Canonized Each Year?

1. What does it mean for someone to be canonized as a saint?

When someone is canonized as a saint, it means that they have been officially recognized by the Catholic Church as a model of holiness and virtue. Essentially, this means that they are believed to be in heaven and can intercede on behalf of those who pray to them.

2. How many saints are typically canonized each year?

The number of saints canonized each year can vary greatly depending on the needs and priorities of the Catholic Church at any given time. In recent years, the number has typically been around two or three per year.

3. Are there certain criteria that a person must meet in order to be considered for canonization?

Yes, there are several criteria that must be met before someone may be considered for canonization. These include having lived a life of heroic virtue, having evidence of performing miracles, and having a reputation for sanctity both before and after their death.

4. Who is responsible for determining whether someone should be canonized?

The process of canonization is overseen by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which is a department of the Vatican responsible for investigating claims of holiness and miracles attributed to individuals.

5. How long does the process of canonization typically take?

The process of canonization can take many years to complete, as it often involves a thorough investigation into the candidate’s life and reputation. It is not uncommon for the process to take several decades or more.

6. Are there any famous saints who have been canonized in recent years?

Yes, there have been several famous saints who have been canonized in recent years, including Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 2016 and Pope John Paul II in 2014.

7. Can anyone be considered for canonization, or only members of the Catholic Church?

Typically, only members of the Catholic Church are considered for canonization. However, there have been exceptions in the past, such as when Pope Francis canonized 800 Italian martyrs who were killed by Ottoman Turks in the 15th century, despite the fact that they were not Catholic.

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We hope that you found this article informative and helpful. If you have any further questions about the process of canonization or anything else related to the Catholic Church, be sure to reach out to a trusted religious authority. And don’t forget to check back soon for more informative articles on topics that matter to you!