Who is a saint?
WHO IS a saint? Saints, broadly speaking, always referred, not simply to those who had faith in Christ but more specifically to those who lived lives of virtuous action inspired by that faith. They remind us that the Church is holy, can never stop being holy, and is called to show the holiness of God by living the life of Christ.
A saint is always someone through whom we catch a glimpse of what God is like – and of what we are called to be. They are as different and unique as only God could create them, and each has his or her own distinct story.
Catholics also use the term more narrowly to refer to especially holy men and women who, by persevering in the Christian faith and living extraordinary lives of virtue, have already entered Heaven.
In Catholic theology, saints are a special class of believers who have been canonised. Canonisation is the process by which the Catholic Church confers sainthood upon a person based on that person’s special deeds. It is an honour bestowed posthumously for which such venerable people could be recognised as saints by all Christians everywhere.
The saints whom we refer to by that title (for instance, Pope Saint John Paul II or Saint Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) have gone through this process of canonisation. Others, such as Saint Paul and Saint Peter and the other apostles, received the title through acclamation – the universal recognition of their holiness.
Catholics believe that both types of saints (canonised and acclaimed) are already in heaven.
MOST REV BURCHELL MCPHERSON, BISHOP OF MONTEGO BAY