Normally, sainthood isn't formally considered for an individual until 5 years after the death of a person. If one was determined enough, how could they go about achieving becoming saints and perhaps even become recognized as such by the the Pope, after, and moreover, before one’s death?

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    One of the main characteristics of sainthood is humility. Being determined to become a saint almost certainly rules you out of contention. – DJClayworth Jul 22 '20 at 3:58
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    @DJClayworth Pope John Paul II more than once said: “Make yourselves saints and do it quickly!” – Ken Graham Jul 22 '20 at 4:24
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    I don't think he meant "strive to get yourselves formally declared as saints" I think he meant "strive to act like saints". – DJClayworth Jul 22 '20 at 13:56
  • @curiousdannii before ones death. I think if people can work hard for good if only for the title, before they die; it would offer self-actualization. Maybe one day we all can qualify to be Saints. – Justintimeforfun Jul 23 '20 at 19:41

What would a person need to be able to do to be a saint while he was yet alive?

Formally declared saints are chosen ultimately by the pope, but only after a thorough investigation of the life, writings, and legacy of the saint candidate. No stone is left unturned. Testimony from witnesses and experts, physical evidence, and the entire life of the person is examined with fine detail. Every skeleton in the closet is taken out, and all dirty laundry looked at — if any exists, that is.

The classic requirements for consideration would be as follows:

  • Evidence of having led an exemplary life of goodness and virtue worthy of imitation, having died a heroic death (martyrdom), or having undergone a major conversion of heart where a previous immoral life is abandoned and replaced by one of outstanding holiness - What Are the Requirements for Sainthood?

Most Roman theologians consider the minimum time of living a saintly life after an immoral lifestyle is abandoned to be five (5) years although exceptions could be made.

On July 11, 2014, Pope Francis slightly somewhat altered these requirements.

Pope Francis has introduced a new pathway to Catholic sainthood, recognizing those who sacrifice their lives for others.

The new category, introduced in a official letter from the pope on Tuesday, is "one of the most significant changes in centuries to the Roman Catholic Church's saint-making procedures," Reuters reports.

Before the change, there were three categories that provided a path to sainthood: being killed for the faith (martyrdom), living a life heroically of Christian virtues and having a strong reputation for religious devotion. The process of becoming a saint begins after an individual's death.

According to the Vatican's official news service, the new category has five main criteria:

  • The individual must freely and voluntarily offer their life in the face of "a certain and soon-to-come death"

  • There must be a "close relation" between "the offering of one's life and the premature death of the one who offers it."

  • The person must show Christian virtues, at least to an ordinary extent, before and after offering their life.

  • They must have a "reputation for holiness" at least after their death.

  • They must have performed a miracle. This is a major difference from the "martyrdom" category, which does not require a miracle.

Archbishop Marcello Bartolucci, secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Saints' Causes, said that this is intended "to promote heroic Christian testimony, (that has been) up to now without a specific process, precisely because it did not completely fit within the case of martyrdom or heroic virtues," according to Catholic News Service.

The current categories are insufficient "for interpreting all possible cases," Bartolucci added.

The pope's letter announcing the new category is called "Maiorem hac dilectionem," which is taken from this passage in the Gospel of John: "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

According to The Associated Press, "examples of people who might fall into that category include those who take the place of someone condemned to death or expectant mothers with fatal diseases who suspend treatment so their babies can be born." - Pope Francis Announces New Path To Sainthood

The point that ”they must have a ‘reputation for holiness’ at least after their death,” reminds me of the life of St. Benedict Labre when he died:

Benedict Joseph Labre probably evoked similar feelings in many who encountered him, and yet when he died the cry went up “the saint is dead! the saint is dead!”

Further information may be gleaned from the following article(s):

  • I am concerned that there has been no Christian comment as to how the NT addresses all Christians in all the 1st century congregations as "saints" - and living saints, at that! St. Paul wrote, "To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called saints" (Rom. 1:6). In his first epistle to Christians in Corinth he greeted them as "those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints" (1:2). In his second epistle to them he said, "...this service is not only supplying the wants of the saints..." (9:12). Do these biblical salutations from the pen of St. Paul count for nothing? – Anne Jul 29 '20 at 17:02
  • @Anne You have the essence of a very possible excellent question. You may wish giving it some thought? – Ken Graham Jul 29 '20 at 19:47
  • I shall, and hope that you might favour such a question with an answer! – Anne Jul 30 '20 at 10:37
  • @Anne I can only try! – Ken Graham Jul 30 '20 at 14:32

Aspiring to sainthood is certainly a good way to orient one's life. The opportunity to "offer one's life" may not arise right away, but the opportunity to develop a "reputation for holiness" is always available. And, in fact, growing in holiness each day might be exactly the preparation a person needs so that if and when the time comes to "offer one's life," the person is prepared.

Take a look at St. Gianna Beretta Molla, for example, beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1994, 32 years after her death, and canonized in 2004, relatively fast track. She was not a member of the clergy or a religious order as so many of the canonized are. She was not celibate. She did not found an order. She lived an ordinary life, marrying and raising children, practicing medicine, and practicing her faith through the Catholic Action apostolate.

When the time came to "offer her life," refusing to save her own life at the risk of her unborn child's, she was prepared to witness to her faith by making that decision. You can learn more about her here: St. Gianna Beretta Molla.


I think the main way to be considered a saint while still alive is to perform miracles or have miraculous things happen to you. Many saints are called saints while still alive, however I think most saints don't want to be acknowledged as saints as most saints are very humble.

A good example of how you can be known as a saint while being still alive is to be a visible stigmatist; Padre Pio and others were stigmatists. Most are women and there are various kinds. The reason I specify visible is because some saints have had invisible stigmata (which are supposedly more painful then the visable kind).

Another way to be known as a saint but a more subtle one would be to hold uncommon amounts of wisdom and knowledge in holiness and share that knowledge with others. Another reason why, besides humility, saints wouldn't' want to be publicly known as saints is because saints always attract people wanting to do evil to go against them. Saints with uncommon wisdom often get attacked and slandered by others, making it hard to distinguish between saints and charlatans.


Get bodily ascended into Heaven by God like Enoch or Jesus.

The Catholic definition of a “saint” is “someone we know has gone to Heaven”. Normally, this occurs after a person’s death; however, there were a few cases in the Bible where individuals were bodily taken into Heaven while still alive: Enoch, before the Flood, and Jesus, after His resurrection. Some Protestant groups believe that prior to the Second Coming, God will take up the faithful during the Rapture, but unless something similar occurs, it is very unlikely that someone from the modern day will enter Heaven while still alive.

  • My understanding of the Catholic concept of sainthood is that it's simply a list of "these are the people we know definitely got into heaven", and that the requirements they put on it are simply so that they can be absolutely sure that they didn't wind up somewhere else. – nick012000 Aug 4 '20 at 5:03
  • Ah, yeah you're right. Sorry, it seemed like you weren't writing about Catholicism, but now I see what you've written does fit exactly. – curiousdannii Aug 4 '20 at 5:46
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    Unfortunately, this is only partly true. According to Catholicism, both Enoch and Elijah are in the Heavenly Paradise ((Eden) waiting for their time to return to the world and then they will become the two witnesses mentioned in the Apocalypse and will be martyred for their faith. – Ken Graham Aug 5 '20 at 14:27

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