Beatification

Article

November 27, 2021

Beatification is, in Catholicism, the act by which the Church recognizes the ascension of a deceased person to Paradise and the consequent ability to intercede on behalf of the faithful who pray to him. The title authorizes the public worship of the "blessed" in the context of a particular Church and, frequently, also of an ecclesiastical body (religious institute, etc.). Beatification is an obligatory stage in the canonization process, at the end of which a servant of God is recognized as a saint.

Historical evolution

In the first millennium and up to the 12th century, bishops could authorize the worship of a deceased Christian in their diocese or in a part of it. However, frequent abuses and disparities by bishops as early as the end of the 11th century convinced the popes to limit the power of the bishops and recommended the examination of miracles and virtues at a council. In particular, this line was followed by popes Urban II, Callisto II and Eugene III. Pope Alexander III was the first to claim papal jurisdiction over beatifications in the mid-twelfth century, although the importance and application of his decretal which prohibited the worship of persons not authorized by the Apostolic See is debated. Alexander III himself not only allowed, but ordered the cult of blessed Guglielmo di Malavalle in the diocese of Grosseto. In the 14th century, the Pope began to authorize the worship of some saints only locally before the canonization process was completed. This practice is at the origin of the beatification procedure, in which a person is called blessed. The public worship of the blessed is universal in the recitation of the martyrology, while the other liturgical celebrations, the Eucharist and the liturgy of the hours, are approved in more restricted areas (single dioceses or religious families). On January 25, 1525, Pope Clement VII granted an indult to the Dominicans of the Convent of Forlì to celebrate the Mass of Blessed Giacomo Salomoni whenever, during the year, their devotion prompted them to do so. This indult is considered important in the history of liturgical celebrations dedicated to a blessed, so much so that it is the oldest mentioned by Pope Benedict XIV in the document De canonizatione [1]. The 1917 Code of Canon Law required two miracles for beatification and two other miracles for canonization. Since 1983, a miracle has been required for beatification and another for canonization. For the pope it is possible to carry out an equivalent beatification: the pope approves, with a simple decree, a spontaneous and existing cult for some time, without specific investigations and without waiting for a miracle to occur. This procedure was followed for example by Pius IX in 1868 for the Brescia bishop Guala de Roniis. With regard to the value of the pontifical act, while most Catholic theologians attribute the character of infallibility to canonization, it is certainly excluded for beatification.

The postulator

The postulator is one of the key figures in the beatification process. He is tasked with researching the truth, recognizing the Imitation of Christ in the earthly life of the saints, and proposing it to the Church with scientific seriousness and spiritual maturity. Furthermore, he is obliged to promote the cause of beatification in the diocesan and ecclesial sphere through an "ever more widespread and shared knowledge of the virtues or martyrdom of the servant of God", encouraging lay people and religious congregations to pray to God and those who have already been proclaimed. saints to intercede in favor of ascertaining the truth in the existing canonical procedure. The postulator cannot conceal "any findings contrary to the reputation of holiness or martyrdom", but must highlight any difficulties and hand over all the historical material to the experts and archival in his possession.

Disputes

The system of beatifications, and in particular the

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