The custom of making Roman Catholic saints can be traced back to the early period of the history of the religion. Here are some of the most famous and accomplished saints who are venerated by the followers of the religion.
Although it used to be an informal process, the custom of creating Roman Catholic saints goes back a long time to the beginning of the religion. In fact, Christians had begun ennobling Christians who had given their lives for the Faith by the 1st century. These people were usually martyrs and belonged to a period when Christians were persecuted.
How are Roman Catholic Saints Chosen?
When the custom of choosing saints began, it was the common people themselves who chose them. Since the process was quite ad hoc, some of the stories of these saints were inflated by legend, while some did not exist at all. Therefore, the Church slowly took over the authorization and approval of choosing saints.
By the 10th century this process came to be known as Canonization. It was as recently as 1983 that Pope John Paul II made the canonization procedure more precise, defining three clear steps in the procedure explained further in detail.
The whole process starts locally after a Catholic, who is considered to be holy, dies. The process usually starts after many years of his/her death. The person's writings and life are investigated by the local bishop, either for heroic virtuousness or/and martyrdom.
If the local bishop is satisfied, it goes on for further evaluation to the Vatican, by a panel of theologians. After they give approval, along with the Cardinals of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the person is proclaimed venerable by the Pope.
This is the next step, wherein unless the person is a martyr, there has to be evidence of at least one miracle. This is considered as proof that the deceased person, now in heaven, has the ability of interceding on behalf of people on earth. Once a miracle attributed to the person is verified, he/she is proclaimed beatified by the Pope.
This final step takes place only after there is evidence of one more miracle. If there is enough proof of that, the person is canonized as a saint by the Pope.
To date, the saints number more than 10,000. Given next are some of them:
She is the Mother of Jesus and is therefore venerated as a saint. Her feast is celebrated on the 1st of January, although little is known about when she was born or when she died. And neither is it known when she was canonized. However, there are four teachings that are regarded as infallible about her:
✦ She was declared as the Ever Virgin. ✦ She was given the title of Mother of God, or Theotokus, which literally means 'God bearer', at the Council of Ephesus, in 431 A.D. ✦ The Immaculate Conception was declared a part of the Deposit of Faith by Pope Pius IX, in 1854 ✦ Lastly, the Assumption was declared a part of the Deposit of Faith by Pope Pius XII in 1950.
Seventeen Marian festivals are observed by the Church every year, amongst which five are regarded as major: Immaculate Conception on 8th of December; Purification on 2nd of February; Annunciation on 25th of March; Assumption on 15th of August; Birth on 8th of September. The Rosary has 50 Hail Marys, or Ave Marias.
Pope Saint Clement I
He was venerated in late 4th century. After Saint Linus and Saint Cletus, he is the third successor of Saint Peter. He is depicted as an anchor, which is meant to symbolize his body being thrown into the sea so that it could not be recovered by the Christians.
His name is mentioned in the Roman Canon, and he is the Patron Saint of stonecutters and marble workers. It is not known when he was canonized. His feast is celebrated on the 23rd of November.
By birth, she was a Roman, but was forced to marry a pagan named Valerian. Although she married, she stayed a virgin all her life. A Basilica was erected and dedicated to her in the 5th century.
Her name is mentioned in the Roman Canon and she is the Patron Saint of singers, poets, sacred music, organ builders, and musicians. It is not known when she was canonized. She died in 250 A.D.
He was born in Carthage, in 210 A.D., to pagan parents. Eventually, he converted to Catholicism and was appointed Bishop of Carthage in the year 249 A.D. He did not agree with Pope Stephen I on the matter of rebaptism of schismatics and heretics.
He became the first African bishop who was martyred, being decapitated in the year 258 A.D. His name occurs in the Roman Canon, and he is the Patron Saint of North Africa and Algeria. His feast is celebrated on 16th of September.
Saint Thomas Aquinas
He was born into the family of the Count of Aquino in 1225 A.D. St. Albert the Great was his instructor when he studied in Paris at Cologne. His best known works are: O salutaris, Adoro te devote, Pange Linqua, Tantum Ergo, and Summa Theologiæ, which was unfinished since he died in 1274 A.D., while he was on his way to the Council of Lyons.
He was canonized in 1323, and he is the Patron Saint of theology, students, schools, philosophers, universities, colleges, catholic schools, and book sellers. The title of Angelic Doctor was also given to him.
Saint Thomas Becket
It was in 1173 A.D., three years after his martyrdom that St. Thomas Becket was canonized. Before he became a bishop in the year 1162, he served as chancellor for eight years. He defended the Church strongly, going against Henry II, which resulted in him being exiled for six years to France.
When he came back to England he had to endure many trials, and then was executed in 1170 by the King's agents. His feast is celebrated on the 29th of December.
Saint Catherine of Sienna
She was born in 1347 A.D. She was known to be a peacemaker in the Church and authored 'The Dialogue'. She received the stigmata in 1375, which only she could see during her life, and only became visible to others after her death.
She was canonized in 1461 and her feast is celebrated on the 29th of April. She was also awarded the 'doctor of the Church' title in 1970. Saint Catherine is regarded as the Patron Saint of fire prevention and Italy.
Saint Francis Xavier
He was born in 1506 A.D., in Navarre, Spain. He was an ardent follower of Saint Ignatius, and renounced all his worldly possessions on hearing his words, 'What does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, but suffer the loss of his soul.' Saint Francis was ordained in Rome, in the year 1537.
He took his Gospel teachings to India and further east, spending ten years in his missionary work. Saint Francis is regarded by the Roman Catholic Church as being the person to have converted the largest numbers of people to Christianity after Saint Paul. He died near the Chinese coast in 1552.
His body was shipped to Goa, India, in 1553. In 1637, his right forearm, which he had used for blessing and baptizing his converts, was detached and placed in a glass covered silver casket, which is displayed to the public periodically. He was canonized in 1622 and his feast is celebrated on 3rd December. St. Francis is the Patron Saint of missions in Goa.
Saint Teresa of Avila
She was born in 1515 A.D., in Avila, Spain. When she was just 20 years of age, she joined the Carmelite order. Saint Teresa and Saint John of the Cross helped in reforming the Carmelite nuns and friars. She authored her autobiography, along with 'Interior Castle' and 'Way of Perfection'.
Her writings were regarded by Pope Gregory XV as well as Pope Urban VIII as equivalent to that of a 'Doctor of the Church', and thus she became the first woman to be awarded that title, by Pope Paul VI in 1970.
Saint Teresa died when she was 67 years of age. She was canonized in 1622 and her feast is celebrated on the 15th of October. Saint Teresa is regarded as the Patron Saint of Spain and headaches.
Saint Rose of Lima
Born in 1586, in Lima, Peru, she is the first saint from America. She is said to have taken a vow of virginity at the young age of 5, and she modeled her life according to Saint Catherine of Sienna. She received the habit of the Third Order of Saint Dominic at 15 years of age, and she lived a life of penance and mortification for sixteen years.
Saint Rose died in the year 1617 A.D., and was canonized in the year 1671 A.D. Her feast is celebrated on the 23rd of August and she is regarded as the Patron Saint of South America, the Philippines, gardeners, and florists.