Glossary of Catholicism


The following terms are often used when talking about the rituals and practices related to the saints in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

beatification
In Roman Catholicism, the process by which a deceased person is declared Blessed.
Blessed
Title given to a deceased person who has reached the next-to-last step in canonization by living a holy life and performing one miracle.
canonization
In Catholicism, the process by which a deceased person is declared a saint. See Canonization of Saints.
cause
The case or file of a would-be saint during the process of canonization.
Congregation for the Causes of Saints
Group of cardinals assigned to manage the causes of would-be saints. They grant permission to a bishop to open a tribunal on the cause of a saint.

The Significance of Canonization

Feast Day
The day of the year dedicated to honoring a particular saint, which is usually the day of the saint's death (i.e., the day the saint entered heaven). See Veneration of Saints.
intercession
(Latin intercedare, plead on behalf of). The act of calling on a saint to help with something or to pray to God on one's behalf. See Intercession of Saints.
litany
A long prayer dedicated to the saints, usually recited antiphonally (responsively).
novena
(Latin novem, nine). Short prayer said to a particular saint for nine consecutive days, usually the nine days leading up to the saint's feast day.
saint
In general, any person who is now in heaven. In the Catholic Church, a deceased person who has lived a holy life and performed at least two miracles can be considered a saint (i.e., definitely in heaven).
Servant of God
Title given to someone being considered for sainthood but not yet declared Blessed or Venerable.
Venerable
Title given to a deceased person who has reached the second step in canonization by living a holy life but performed no confirmed miracles.
Sources
  • "Chapter 15: Calling on the Canonized," Catholicism for Dummies, pp. 273-292.
  • "Beatification and Canonization." The Catholic Encyclopedia
  • Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church