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This 'Saint Maker' Guides Catholics Through the Complicated & Expensive Canonization Process


"There is money -- hundreds of thousands of dollars needed and official, church-approved representatives in Rome to push your cause -- called postulators."

Mother Theodore

Canonization, the act and process through which the Catholic Church declares a deceased person a saint, is a complicated, long and expensive feat, to say the least. It requires patience, money, time and powerful advocates, as those who seek to see someone become honored in this way face plenty of hurdles.

"There is the bureaucracy. There is money -- hundreds of thousands of dollars needed and official, church-approved representatives in Rome to push your cause -- called postulators," CNN's Drew Griffin explains in a fascinating new report.

Griffin's story documents Mother Theodore Guerin's path to the sainthood. Guerin, who lived from 1798 until 1856, founded the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, a congregation of nuns in Indiana. Her life and purported post-mortem miracles so inspired her fellow nuns that they spent nearly 100 years advocating for her placement as a saint.

While one might assume that canonization is simple, there are many steps that a candidate for the sainthood must pass before being officially brought into the fold. Much of the process takes place at Saint Peter's Square (in Italian: Piazza San Pietro) in Vatican City, Rome. On the third floor of the building, theologians work in secret to scrutinize numerous documents to see if an individual under consideration is truly holy.

Then, a special council of historians, scientists and doctors ask "for a sign of God" -- two, in fact. It is in this secondary process that an individual must be shown to have performed at least two miracles, a requirement if people, like Mother Guerin, are to be brought into sainthood. This, of course, could mean that a cure to a disease has taken place or another related extra-human intervention.

In the case of Mother Guerin, a 48-year-old woman who suffered from a tumor prayed at the nun's grave site in 1908. The next day, the woman woke up and was entirely cured of her affliction (she lived until the age of 86). This, of course, was considered one of the required miracles and it was also the event that set in course the Sisters of Providence's nearly century-long efforts to see Guerin canonized.

Watch Griffin explain these elements, below:

In the second part of his report (some of which is covered in part one), Griffin delves into Dr. Andrea Ambrosi's story, a lawyer who has worked on hundreds of canonization cases. The Sisters of Providence hired him to assist in advocating for Guerin's sainthood. Known as "the Saint Maker," Ambrosi inevitably reached success and Guerin was canonized in 2006 (the nuns share more about the process on their web site).

Learn more about Guerin's second miracle and the process that led to her sainthood, below:

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