Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Canonisation, an act of the Pope, decreeing, after full inquiry, that a certain person who has already undergone beatification (q.v.) shall be admitted to the canon, or roll of saints, and be venerated publicly throughout the Catholic Church. The custom is said to be derived from the formal authorisation of new gods by the Roman senate. Down to the tenth century any metropolitan (q.v.) could canonise a martyr on the petition of the bishop of a diocese, after consultation with other bishops; after the tenth century each bishop could canonise (but this seems to have been hardly more than beatification). The first saint canonised (in the full sense) by a Pope was Ulrich, a bishop of Augsburg (993 A.D.). In 1070 Pope John XV. confined the power to the Pope, and in 1634 Urban VIII. laid down minute regulations to prevent abuse or mistake. The petition for canonisation is heard at Rome, in the presence of a "Promotor Fidei" (supporter of the Faith), commonly called Devil's Advocate, whose duty it is to attempt to find flaws in the character of the proposed saint, who must already have been beatified, and whose worth must have been proved by at least two well-attested miracles. Three successive congregations then deal with the question. The third is public, the Pope presides, and the postulant or advocate of the saint, who is usually a distinguished fellow-countryman, formally asks three times for his admission. Twice the Pope replies that the will of God must be further explored by prayer; litanies are then sung, and at the third time the Pope consents, and fixes a day for the formal canonisation, at which (together with elaborately symbolic ceremonies) the statue of the new saint is unveiled, a mass said in his honour, and thanksgivings offered for the new patron and intercessor obtained by the Church.