Definition: The recognition by the Catholic Church that a person has gone to heaven, and can thus intercede on behalf of living Catholics. It is the third of four steps in the canonization of a saint. Once beatified, the person is given the title “blessed.” In order to be beatified, the Church must determine that the person lived a life of heroic virtue, and at least one miracle has been performed as a result of their heavenly intercession. [The requirement of a miracle is waived for martyrs]. Mother Teresa, who died in 1999, was beatified in 2002 after a non-Catholic Indian woman living in Calcutta had a large abdominal tumor disappear. Members of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity had prayed to their founder for the woman’s healing. After beatification, a feast day is placed on the Church calendar, which is usually applicable only to a particular locality. Upon canonization, the beatified person must be venerated by the whole Church, and is officially listed among the official canon of the saints.
Discussion: The practice of beatification is erroneous, since only God ultimately knows who he has elected to heaven. The presence of alleged miracles is no sure sign of a person’s intercession – Jesus even warns of false signs and wonders (Mt. 24:24). Also, Christians are only to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus (Jn. 16:23). Praying for assistance from a dead person is idolatrous, and diminishes the intercession of Jesus (Is. 45:20).
Articles & Viewpoints:
- Article from the Catholic Encyclopedia – Beatification and Canonization