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How many miracles does it take to become a saint?

Step 2: The preparation of the inquiries (processus) all of which are carried on by the ordinary episcopal authority. They are of three kinds: (a) Informative inquiries regard the reputation for sanctity and miracles of the servants of God, not only in general, but also in particular instances; there may be several such inquiries if the witnesses to be examined belong to different dioceses. (b) Processes de non cultu are instituted to prove that the decrees of Urban VIII regarding the prohibition of public worship of servants of God before their beatification have been obeyed; they are generally conducted by the bishop of the place where the relics of the servant of God are preserved. (c) Other inquiries are known as Processiculi diligentiarum and have for their object the writings attributed to the person whose beatification is in question; they vary in number according to the dioceses where such writings are found, or are thought likely to be found, and may not be judicially executed before an “Instruction” is obtained from the promotor of the Faith by the postulator-general and by him sent to the bishop in question.

Step 16: Meanwhile all necessary preparation is made for the discussion of the question (dubium): Is there evidence that the venerable servant of God practiced virtues both theological and cardinal, and in an heroic degree? (An constet de virtutibus Ven. servi Dei, tam theologicis quam cardinalibus, in heroico gradu?) In the causes of confessors this step is of primary importance. The point is discussed in three meetings or congregations called respectively, ante-preparatory, preparatory, and general. The first of these meetings is held in the palace of the cardinal relator (reporter) of the cause, and in it only consultors of the Congregation of Sacred Rites, and with their chairman, or prefect, presiding, the third is also held in the Vatican, and at it the pope presides, and both cardinals and consultors vote. For each of these congregations the advocate of the cause prepares and prints official reports (positiones), called respectively report, new report, final report, concerning the virtues, etc., — positio, positio nova, positio novissima, super virtutibus. In each case, before proceeding to the subsequent meeting, a majority of the consultors must decide that the difficulties of the promotor of the Faith have been satisfactorily solved.

Step 18: The miracles now remain to be proved, of which two of the first class are required in case the practice of virtues in the heroic degree has been proved, in both ordinary and Apostolic inquiries or processes by eyewitnesses — three, if the eyewitnesses were found only in the ordinary processes; four, if the virtues were proven only by hearsay (de auditu) witnesses. If the miracles have been sufficiently proven in the Apostolic processes (super virtutibus) already declared valid, steps are taken at once to prepare the documents with regard to miracles (super miraculis). If in the Apostolic processes only general mention has been made of the miracles, new Apostolic processes must be opened, and conducted after the manner already described for proving the practice of virtues in an heroic degree.

Step 19: The discussion of the particular miracles proceeds in exactly the same way and in the same order as that of the virtues. If the decisions be favourable, the general meeting of the congregation is followed by a decree, confirmed by the pope, in which it is announced that there is proof of miracles. It must be noted here that in the positio for the ante-preparatory congregation there are required, and are printed, opinions of two physicians, one of whom has been chosen by the postulator, the other by the Congregation of Rites. Of the three reports (positiones) above mentioned, and which are now also required, the first is prepared in the usual way; the second consists of an exposition of the heroic virtues of the servant of God, an information, and a reply to later observations of the promotor of the Faith; the last consists only of an answer to his final observations.

The beatification of martyrs

Step 5: The discussion as to martyrdoms and miracles, formerly held in three meetings or congregations, viz. the ante-preparatory, preparatory, and general, is now usually conducted, through a dispensation to be had in each instance from the sovereign pontiff, in a single congregation known as particularis, or special. It consists of six or seven cardinals of the Congregation of Rites and four or five prelates especially deputed by the pope. There is but one positio prepared in the usual way; if there be an affirmative majority a decree is issued concerning the proof of martyrdom, the cause of martyrdom, and miracles. (Constare de Martyrio, causâ Martyrii et signis.)


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