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Beatification of John Paul II in St. Peter's Square in Rome

A beatification or beatification (v. Latin beatus "blessed" "happy", facere "make", "do") is in the Roman Catholic Church , a church legal process in its conclusion the Pope declared after verifying that a deceased may be called Blessed and publicly venerated as such . The prerequisite is either martyrdom or a heroic degree of virtue and - in the event that it is not a martyr - proof of a miracle that was caused by the invocation of the blessed and his intercession with God. In contrast to canonization , only veneration by the local church is permitted at beatification.

A canonization or beatification does not mean that a person is “transferred to heaven”, but with it the church expresses the trust that the person concerned has already reached perfection with God . It has liturgical significance insofar as it is no longer for the Blessed but with him to be prayed for and he can be called upon for his or her intercession with God.


The Beatitudes are part of the Sermon on the Mount of Jesus of Nazarets according to Matthew 5 and Luke 6. In them Jesus praises the spiritually and physically poor, the suffering, the hungry, the weeping, the persecuted for Christ's sake and thirsting for righteousness as well as the merciful, not condemning, forgiving, Meek, peaceful people and people with a pure heart are happy and promise them the kingdom of God as the perfect fulfillment of life, which they can already look forward to now. According to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, “blessed” are those who, immediately after their death, have come into the eternal view of God.


A beatification was originally a diocesan canonization process. However, those deceased who had been included in the Martyrologium Romanum , the Roman calendar of saints, were considered to be more venerable . Later on, the diocesan beatifications were also taken over by the Holy See .

The procedure

The prerequisites for the initiation of the beatification process are the “call of holiness” ( fama sanctitatis ) and the “call of miracles” ( fama signorum ), which the candidate must enjoy among the faithful. According to the Church, the “call to holiness” can arise after a martyr's death or through the life of the person to be beatified, which is characterized by faith, love, hope and the cardinal virtues. With his Motu proprio Maiorem hac dilectionem, Pope Francis added a third possible basis for a beatification and canonization process - besides martyrdom or a "heroic degree of virtue" ( heroicitas virtutum ): the devotion of life ( vitae oblatio ). This refers to Christians who gave their lives “freely and voluntarily” out of charity ( propter caritatem ).

The beatification process precedes a beatification . The main concern here is to examine the conduct of life of the person to be beatified and to investigate a miracle ascribed to him . A church attorney (lat. Promotor justitiae , dt. Promoter of justice , until 1983 promotor fidei ) has the task of finding out facts and events that stand in the way of a beatification.

According to canon law, a process of beatification may only be opened five years after the death of the person concerned. The pope can to this rule but dispense what in modern times when Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1999, after two years), Pope John Paul II. (2005, after only three months) and Fatima -Seherin Lúcia Santos , (2008 after three years) was the case. A beatification process often takes several decades, sometimes only a few years.

Whoever is attested to the heroic degree of virtue as the first step in the process can be called venerable servant of God ( venerabilis Dei servus ).

Pope Benedict XVI has returned to the practice of the Church until 1975 of performing beatifications by the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints or by another commissioned bishop in the respective dioceses or another suitable place. This can be seen as a step towards decentralizing beatifications again. This practice has the advantage, for example, that the celebration can take place at the grave of the Blessed and that participation is not reserved for the pilgrims to Rome. Beatification now takes place in Rome only at the express request of the respective bishop or in the case of Roman blessed. The proclamation is usually made during a Eucharistic celebration .

The 2007 beatification of Spanish civil war victims was numerically the largest beatification in history. 498 Spanish Catholics were beatified as martyrs. 491 of them were clergy and seven were lay . Most of them had been murdered as part of anti-clerical repression campaigns during the first few weeks after the Francoist coup in 1936.

See also


  • P. Althaus : Art. Beatitude , In: The religion in history and present , 3rd A., Vol. 5, pp. 1686–1688.
  • U. Becker: Art. Beatitude , In: L. Coenen et al. (Ed.): Theological glossary of terms for the New Testament , Vol. II / 2 (1971), pp. 1133–1135.
  • Wolfgang Beinert et al .: Art. Beatitude , In: Lexicon for Theology and Church , 3rd A., Vol. 9, pp. 437–442.
  • E. Büchsel: Art. Beatitude of the Heiden , In: Historical Dictionary of Philosophy , Vol. 9, pp. 570-574.
  • F. Hauck, G. Bertram: Art. Makarios, makarizo, makarismos , In: G. Kittel (Ed.): Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. 4 (1942), pp. 365–373.
  • Jakob Torsy (Ed.): Lexicon of the German saints, blessed, venerable and godly. Cologne 1959.
  • Nikolaus Wicki: The doctrine of heavenly bliss in medieval scholasticism from Petrus Lombardus to Thomas von Aquin , Universitätsverlag, Freiburg / Switzerland 1954.

Web links

Wiktionary: Beatification  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Kurt Breitsching: “How do you become a saint? A brief overview of the beatification and canonization process of the Catholic Church. ”Status: June 16, 2003. URL: (accessed on May 22 2008)
  2. Littera apostolica motu proprio data “Maiorem hac dilectionem” de oblatione vitae , Art. 1.
  3. Littera apostolica motu proprio data "Maiorem hac dilectionem" de oblatione vitae , Art. 2.