Why does someone have to have a miracle (or two) attributed to them before they can officially become a Saint? Why isn't clear evidence of a righteous lifestyle enough?

  • Or a clear profession of faith?
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 2, 2014 at 0:53
  • 1
    Matthew 16:4 "A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed."
    – user10620
    Dec 2, 2014 at 1:53

1 Answer 1


Why does someone have to have a miracle (or two) attributed to them before they can officially become a Saint? [...]

Understood as asking,

"Why is there a formal Canonization process within the Church and why are miracles required when 'clear evidence of a righteous [life ought to be sufficient]'?"

The latter part of the question is answered by this article Beatification and Canonization | New Advent:

The Catholic Church canonizes or beatifies only those whose lives have been marked by the exercise of heroic virtue, and only after this has been proved by common repute for sanctity and by conclusive arguments.

Why a formal process?

The answer is in the formula of canonization such as the one below:

Therefore, today, in a solemn Mass in St. Peter's Square, before an immense multitude of the faithful, We have pronounced the following formula: In honor of the Blessed and Undivided Trinity, for the uplifting of Catholic faith and the increase of Christian life, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ and that of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and our own, after careful deliberation, having called frequently upon God's help, and with the advice of many of our brother Bishops, We declare and define Blessed N to be a Saint, and We inscribe his name in the catalogue of the Saints, ordaining that, throughout the universal Church, he be devoutly honored among the Saints. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Since raising someone to the altars honors the Blessed Trinity and will be for the uplifting of the Catholic faith and increase of the Christian life, the act was preceded by careful deliberation, calling frequently upon God's help, and with the advice of many Bishops.

Why are miracles required?

People may be mistaken about a person's reputation for sanctity but not God. Before the real Marcial Maciel came to light, if one went by the works he founded, one might think he were a living saint.

The article Beatification and Canonization | New Advent quoted above states:

the Church [sees] in the saints nothing more than friends and servants of God whose holy lives have made them worthy of His special love.

After Jesus performs a miracle whereby a man born blind receives sight, the gospels testify that, '[we] know that God does not listen to sinners, but if any one is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.'

Therefore the miracles wrought through the intercession of the friends and servants of God testify to the now definitive friendship in heaven in God's presence.


  1. Please note that there are saints in heaven not formally canonized whose Solemnity [All Saints] is celebrated on November 1.
  2. Saint Paul referred to Christians as "saints". This is the calling for everyone.
  3. For canonizations, the pope may, and does, use one of two methods, each constituting a new species of canonization, i.e. formal canonization and equivalent canonization. [cf. the New advent article linked above].

Further reading:

Please note Can. 1403 §1.

Special pontifical law1 governs the causes of canonization of the servants of God.

1. Please see the preceding bullet points.

  • 1
    One additional note - there are also people who are considered saints but were not formally canonized by the standard process (e.g. St. Peter, St. Lucy, most of the early saints). Dec 2, 2014 at 17:59
  • @MattGutting Thanks! You are welcome to edit in and expand upon where you see fit. Perhaps in the endnotes?
    – user13992
    Dec 2, 2014 at 18:58

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