Beatification (from Latin beatus, blessed) is a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person's entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name (intercession of saints). Beatification is the third of the four steps in the canonization process. A person who is beatified is given the title "Blessed".
In earlier ages this honor was entirely local and passed from one diocese to another with the permission of their bishops. This is clear from the fact that early Christian cemeteries contain paintings only of local martyrs. Some beatifications by bishops in the Middle Ages were almost scandalous by modern standards. For instance, Charlemagne was beatified by a court bishop soon after his death. He was never canonized, and his veneration has been mostly suppressed, though permission is given to celebrate Mass in his honor in the cities of Aachen and Osnabrück, but without using the title of "Blessed".
Since the Catholic Church reform of 1983, one miracle must be proven to have taken place through the intercession of the person to be beatified, though this requirement is not necessary for those who died a martyr, as their sanctity is already evident because they were killed distinctly out of hatred for the faith ("odium fidei"). More about the process can be found in the article on canonization.
The feast day for the Blessed person is not universal, but is celebrated only in regions where the person receives particular veneration. For instance, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha is honored in the United States of America and Canada. The person may also be honored in a particular religious order. For instance, veneration of John Duns Scotus is found in the Archdiocese of Cologne, Germany, and among the Franciscans, among other places. Similarly, Blessed Chiara Badano is particular to the Focolare movement, and also demonstrates that, contrary to popular opinion, beatification may take place within a short time after the death of an individual (in this case, just twenty years).
Beatification practices under the Popes
Pope John Paul II (16 October 1978 – 2 April 2005) markedly changed previous Catholic practice of beatification. By October 2004 he had beatified 1,340 people, more than the sum of all of his predecessors since Pope Sixtus V (1585–1590), who established a beatification procedure similar to that used today. John Paul II's successor, Pope Benedict XVI, removed the custom of holding beatification rites in the Vatican with the Pope presiding; they can now be held in the location where the subject lived with the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints designated to preside over the ceremony as Papal Delegate. This does not preclude the Pope himself presiding, as happened on Sunday 19 September 2010, when Benedict XVI beatified John Henry Newman in Cofton Park, Birmingham, on the last day of his visit to the United Kingdom. Benedict XVI also personally celebrated the Beatification Mass for his, predecessor, John Paul II, at St. Peter's Basilica, on the Second Sunday of Easter, or Divine Mercy Sunday, on May 1, 2011 – an event which drew more than a million people.
Cultus confirmation is a somewhat different procedure, where the church recognizes a local cult of a person, asserting that veneration of that person is acceptable. Such a confirmation is more of an official sanctioning of folk Christianity than an active step in a canonization procedure, but the object of the cult may equally be addressed as "Blessed".
- Vatican website, with new procedures
- The Process of Becoming a Saint - article explaining the history of the process of becoming a saint at the Catholic Herald.
- "Beatification and Canonization". Catholic Encyclopedia. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02364b.htm.
- ^ There have however been occasions where instead a Cardinal from the local region was put in this place.
- ^ Patron Saints Index Definition: Cultus Confirmation
- List of all Blesseds in the Catholic Church by Giga-Catholic Information.
Stages of canonization in the Catholic Church Servant of God → Venerable → Blessed → Saint
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béatification — [ beatifikasjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1372; de béatifier ♦ Acte de l autorité pontificale par lequel une personne défunte est mise au rang des bienheureux. La béatification est un préliminaire à la canonisation. ● béatification nom féminin Acte par lequel le … Encyclopédie Universelle
Beatification — Béatification La béatification est un rite en usage dans les Églises anglicane, catholique et orthodoxe, consistant à déclarer une personne « bienheureuse » suite à une vie jugée exemplaire. Le bienheureux reçoit ensuite un culte public … Wikipédia en Français
Beatification — Be*at i*fi*ca tion (b[ e]*[a^]t [i^]*f[i^]*k[=a] sh[u^]n), n. [Cf. F. b[ e]atification.] The act of beatifying, or the state of being beatified; esp., in the R. C. Church, the act or process of ascertaining and declaring that a deceased person is … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
beatification — c.1500, act of rendering blessed, from M.Fr. béatification, noun of action and state from pp. stem of L.L. beatificare (see BEATIFY (Cf. beatify)). As a papal declaration about the status of a deceased person, it dates from c.1600 … Etymology dictionary
beatification — [bē at΄ə fi kā′shən] n. [Fr béatification < MFr: see BEATIFY] 1. a beatifying or being beatified 2. R.C.Ch. a) investigation, now formal, of whether a deceased person should be publicly declared to be in heaven and so entitled to some public… … English World dictionary
Beatification — (v. lat.), 1) Seligsprechung einer verstorbenen Person durch den Papst. Wenn nämlich ein Individuum seiner Tugend wegen von einigen Bischöfen für heilig erkannt wird, so erhält es, doch erst 50 Jahre nach seinem Tode, von dem Papste den Titel:… … Pierer's Universal-Lexikon
Beatification — Beatification, d.h. Seligsprechung, ist die erste Stufe zur Kanonisation od. Heiligsprechung und besteht in der vorläufigen Erklärung des Papstes, daß eine verstorbene Person um ihrer Tugenden und Wunder willen für selig gehalten, öffentlich von… … Herders Conversations-Lexikon
beatification — BEATIFICATION. s. f. Acte par lequel le Pape, après la mort d une personne, déclare qu elle est au nombre des Bienheureux … Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798
beatification — Beatification. subst. fem. Acte par lequel le Pape declare qu une personne est bienheureuse aprés sa mort … Dictionnaire de l'Académie française
Béatification — Ne doit pas être confondu avec Canonisation. Une béatification est la déclaration, par décret pontifical, qu une personne de foi chrétienne a pratiqué les vertus naturelles et chrétiennes de façon exemplaire, ou même héroïque. La vénération … Wikipédia en Français