11 May 2017

How are saints made? A primer on miracles, martyrs, virtues

In this photo taken May 4, 2017, souvenir tiles are displayed for sale at a shop in the village of Aljustrel, outside Fatima, Portugal. The tiles show Lucia Santos, Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto, the Portuguese shepherd children who say they saw visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago. Pope Francis is visiting the Fatima shrine on May 12 and 13 to canonize Francisco and Jacinta Marto.
Lengthy historic investigations. Decrees of “heroic virtues.” Miraculous cures.

The Vatican’s complicated saint-making process has long fascinated Catholics and non-Catholics alike, and will be on display Saturday when Pope Francis canonizes two children whose “visions” of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago turned the sleepy farming town of Fatima into a major Catholic pilgrimage site.

Francis recently reformed the process to address financial abuses that had long tarnished the Vatican’s saint-making machine, but the basic criteria remain.