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There are over 10000 named saints and beati from history the Roman Martyology and Orthodox sources but no definitive head count Infact there is a saint for each letter of the alaphebet Canonization the process the Church uses to name a saint has only been used since the tenth century For hundreds of years starting with the first martyrs of the early Church saints were chosen by public acclaim Though this was a more democratic way to recognize saints some saints stories were distorted by legend and some never existed Gradually the bishops and finally the Vatican took over authority for approving saints In 1983 Pope John Paul II made sweeping changes in the canonization procedure The process begins after the death of a Catholic whom people regard as holy Often the process starts many years after death in order give perspective on the candidate The local bishop investigates the candidates life and writings for heroic virtue or martyrdom and orthodoxy of doctrine Then a panel of theologians at the Vatican evaluates the candidate After approval by the panel and cardinals of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints the pope proclaims the candidate venerable The next step beatification requires evidence of one miracle except in the case of martyrs Since miracles are considered proof that the person is in heaven and can intercede for us the miracle must take place after the candidates death and as a result of a specific petition to the candidate When the pope proclaims the candidate beatified or blessed the person can be venerated by a particular region or group of people with whom the person holds special importance Only after one more miracle will the pope canonize the saint this includes martyrs as well The title of saint tells us that the person lived a holy life is in heaven and is to be honored
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