Martyrs, Canonization of The

Martyrs, Canonization of the The ceremony for canonizing saints in the Roman Catholic Church varied greatly until, in the middle of the last century, pope Benedict XIV definitely prescribed it. It is now as follows: After the candidate's reputation for sanctity has been duly proved, he is styled venerable, after which an inquiry is entered into to establish the proof of his virtues, in a high or, as it is termed, heroic degree. For that purpose the whole life and all the actions of the candidate are scrutinized. That task devolves on the Sacred Congregation of the Rites, assisted by theologians and canonists, three auditors of the rota, and monks belonging to five different orders. Natural philosophers and physicians are also called on to give their opinions on the temperament of the candidate and on the miracles which are attributed to him. The most important and the most original character in this court of inquiry is that of the promoter of the faith, also called the Advocate of the Devil. His Satanic majesty is a power which must be taken into account, and is allowed to have his cause pleaded even before the ecclesiastical tribunal. This advocate may be supposed to bring forward arguments to prove that the man who is a candidate for canonization is guilty of every sin; that he has violated the ten commandments of God and those of the Church; has eaten on fast days; has entered into a compact with the daemons of avarice, pride, envy, hatred, and malice; and that the miracles attributed to him were performed by the devil himself. The advocate would probably conclude his argument by saying, "Render therefore unto Satan that which is Satan's, and do not deprive Beelzebub of the fruit of his works." The advocate for the candidate then rises, and endeavors to overturn all the arguments of his learned brother by bringing forward and enlarging upon all the virtues of his client, and concludes by begging the judges to throw open to him the doors of beatitude, and adorn his forehead with the rays of glory. The tribunal then examines all the arguments pro and con, and at length pronounces in favor of the candidate. Next comes the question of the miracles, and the natural philosophers are requested to bring forward all the objections they may have to make. They in their turn declare that science is vanquished, and the miracles are declared to be bona fide. A favorable report is then made to the pope, who delivers the sentence of beatification, and on the day appointed pronounces the canonization from his throne at the Vatican. The honors conferred by canonization are seven in number:

1. The names are inscribed in the ecclesiastical almanacs, in the list of martyrs, and in the litanies. 2. They are publicly invoked in the prayers and service of the Church. 3. Chapters, churches, and altars are dedicated to them. 4. Sacrifice is offered in their honor at the mass. 5. Their fete day is celebrated. 6. Their images are exhibited in the churches, and they may be there represented with a crown of light round the head. 7. Their relics are offered to the veneration of the faithful, and carried with pomp in solemn processions. SEE CANONIZATION.

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