There are some topics in the faith that are a little confusing and even hard to believe. Saints are certainly of particular interests.
We are blessed to live in the communion of saints that surrounds us to encourage and intercede for our intentions. To be a saint, a person must have completed their life on earth and be in the fullness of the beatific vision in heaven.
How many canonized saints are there?
The most certain number of official saints that can be found is in the 800s, but there is plenty of dispute about that number. It’s important to note that there are innumerable amounts of saints because canonization is not required to be in heaven. The majority of the citizens of heaven are not officially recognized, but that doesn’t negate the reality of their state. It’s more important to remember that there are people in heaven and we hope to be there someday too.
Did saints need to perform miracles in their earthly life?
Many of the saints were able to use their charisms to do extraordinary, even supernatural, acts to serve the Lord and love their neighbor. Although, none of this was through their own ability, it all came about through the generous grace of the Holy Spirit. We hear many of these great stories in the book of Acts and the rest of Sacred Scripture.
Performing miracles in this life is not a requirement to be considered for sainthood, only living a life committed to Christ through heroic virtue to live in union with Him.
Why is there such an emphasis on miracles for canonization?
It’s interesting to note that the reasons for canonization have nothing to do with miracles in their earthly life. Even a miracle man like St Padre Pio was celebrated at his canonization for his fidelity to the love of Jesus instead of ever mentioning any of the supernatural acts he participated in with the Holy Spirit.
Miracles through intercession are required after the death of a person in order to give testimony of their presence in heaven. Scientific and theological commissions are assigned to investigate that the act was truly unexplainable and completely effective. The process leaves no room for doubt that there was truly a miracle. This is really the only practical way we have been find substantial evidence that they are truly saints.
Do Catholics Need to Believe in Miracles of Saints?
There is no requirement on Catholics to believe that the any of the saints experienced or participated in great miracles in their life. It is not part of our creed or even in our Catechism, it’s only optional devotion. The Directory of Popular Piety has some guidance on practicing this devotion and veneration of saints.
We are only required to believe in the Communion of Saints, and acknowledge the validity of their canonization.
Even if it’s not required, these are opportunities to have faith in the power of God, especially in His desire to use us as instruments of His love and mercy.
On a similar topic, it is important to believe that God is capable of performing miracles and not to downplay those that we hear in scripture. Doubting the power of God waters down His omnipotence and power in our minds, but we can be confident that with God, all things are possible.
He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
There are countless amazing stories of the great things that God has done in the lives of these great witnesses. Do you have any favorite saint stories?