HOW MANY SAINTS ARE THERE?

HOW MANY SAINTS ARE THERE?

If the question is legitimate and frequent among many believers and non-believers, the answer is much more complicated.

According to some, the number would be around 9,000. Some others say there would be as many as 20,000. What is certain is that since 1588, the number of saints has reached 1,726.
What is surprising is the small number of canonisations carried out in the period from 1592 to 1978, the number being only 302.
The decisive turning point in the number of proclamations of new saints came with Peter's most recent predecessors.

It is impossible not to mention the Pope, who himself became a saint, Karol Wojtyla.
His Church is remembered as Martyrial. John Paul II canonised 388 Saints, including men and women who suffered death because of their faith.
The Holy Pontiff declared in his Letter of 10 November 1994, Tertio Millennio Adveniente, that the ‘The Church was born of the blood of the martyrs’ or ‘Sanguis Martyrum Semen Christianorum’.

St. John Paul II dwelled even more on this concept, analysing the contemporary situation in Europe: ‘In our own century the martyrs have returned, many of them nameless, unknown soldiers as it were of God's great cause’.
This is certainly one of the strongest motivations that led the Holy Father to the canonisation and beatification of countless saints.
Francis certainly did not stand by and watch.
With his 898 saints, our beloved Pontiff seems to have broken every record. Following in the footsteps of Pope Wojtyla, Bergoglio proclaimed 800 Christian martyrs killed in the Apulian town of Otranto, besieged by the Turks in 1480, to be saints at the same time.

Bergoglio's Church can be defined as 'Samaritan', i.e. marked by humility. Francis inaugurated a third way to sanctification: alongside "Martyrdom" and "Heroic Virtues", the "Offering of Life" is another particular case for starting the process of canonisation and sanctification.
But what were the prerogatives for being a saint in the past and how many saints were canonised?
In the first five centuries of the life of Christian communities, there was no talk of actual saints but rather of martyrs.
Martyrologies were created as catalogues or collections in which the names of those who had suffered martyrdom were included.

The immolation of one's life as a sign of testimony to faith in God led to the veneration after death of those who publicly suffered capital punishment.
It is at the end of the persecutions that a change took place.
The cult of the martyrs was joined by that of confessors, of those faithful who, having survived death, chose an ascetic life of penance.
But it was not until the collapse of the Western Roman Empire that the process of ‘canonisation’ began.
From then on, canonisation is entrusted to the bishops, and is known as ‘Episcopal canonisation’.
Bishops authorised the veneration of the saints through a careful investigation that led to the writing of the saint's life, the miracle becoming an essential element in the choice of the candidate.
The year 1588 was decisive, with the establishment of the Congregation of Sacred Rites and Ceremonies by Pope Sixtus V.

The new Congregation had a wide range of competencies, including the causes related to the canonisation of the Catholic Church and the organisation of ceremonies.
Benedict XIV defined the practices of the process in his De Servorum Dei Beatificatione et Beatorum Canonizatione. These practices were slowly refined until the current legislation of 1983 was adopted.
These brief historical notes on the birth of sanctification show us how for years the Catholic Church, guided by its various Pontiffs, has tried to improve the criteria for becoming a saint.

What is beautiful and fascinating is that in this army of ‘heroes’, each of us manages to love one in particular, to become attached to him and make him his own.
In the life of the Good Christian, a Saint becomes a bit like our Guardian Angel, the one to whom we entrust ourselves in the most difficult moments, but also the one to whom we confide our dearest wishes.

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