Religious leaders nominate a saint candidate in a petition to Rome, called a cause. When a cause is recognized as a viable candidate, he or she receives the title “Servant of God.”
A church official, called a postulator, collects documents and testimony to prove the candidate lived a life of “heroic virtues.” It is presented to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome. If it agrees, the candidate receives the title of “Venerable.”
The next step is beatification. A martyr can be beatified directly. Others must have a miracle attributed to their intercession and verified by the Congregation for the Causes. Once a person is beatified, he or she can be venerated in their diocese or religious community.
A person can be canonized by the pope, or made a saint, after another verifiable miracle. A martyr is required to have one miracle. Others must have two. The person can now be venerated by all Catholics, and is considered a model of Christ-like living.
Over the centuries, the average time between a candidate’s death and canonization has been about 100 years.