In Church doctrine, "SAINT" is a term used to refer to deceased person who in life contributed substantially to the cause of Christianity, and is to be officially regarded as a holy person. The process of officially recognizing a person as a Saint is called canonization and serves to hold up those individuals as role models and heroes of Christian virtue.
Due to historical ties with the Catholic Church, some Protestant churches may include some recognition of Saints in their doctrines.
In the Roman Catholic church, the title of Saint - with a capital 'S' - refers to a person who has been formally canonized (officially recognized) by the Church. Formal Canonization is a lengthy process often taking many years, even centuries. The process includes a thorough investigation of the individual who has been put forth as a candidate for Sainthood. This investigation typically is concerned with examining and confirming (or disproving) any number of visions or miracles that may have been attributed to the person in question, or of the general holiness or specific good deeds that he or she may have done while alive. It should be noted, however, that the Church places special weight on those miracles or instances of intercession that happened after the individual died and which are seen to be demonstrative of the Saint's continued special relationship with God after death. Also, by this definition there are many people believed to be in heaven who have not been formally declared as Saints (most typically due to their obscurity and the involved process of formal canonization)
Stages of Canonization in the Roman Catholic Church
Servant of God
Servant of God is the title given to a person of the Roman Catholic Church upon whom a pope has opened a cause of sainthood. It is the first step in the process leading to being declared Venerable upon a decree of heroicity or martyrdom
"Venerable" is the title of a person who has attained the third-highest of the recognized degrees of sanctity. Before one is considered Venerable, he or she must be declared a Servant of God by proclamation. Consecrating a person with the title of Venerable leads through the process of naming an individual a saint. The next step is beatification, at which point the person is referred to as Blessed, and then finally canonization, at which point the person is referred to as Saint.
In Catholicism, beatification is a recognition accorded by the Church of a dead person's accession to Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in their name (intercession of saints). One miracle must be proven to have taken place through the intercession of the person to be beatified, though this requirement is waived for those who died a martyr. A person who is beatified is given the title "Blessed." The feast day, however, is not universal, but is celebrated only in regions where the Blessed receives particular veneration. The Blessed may also be honored in a particular religious order. Beatification is considered to be a step towards being declared a saint, usually following the step of being declared venerable and preceding the step of canonization as a saint.
An additional miracle is required for Canonization. After a second miracle is attributed to the intercession of the “Blessed,” the Pope may then declare the Blessed a “Saint.”
Learn more about the Saints:
THE SAINTS' INDEX PAGE