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ROAD TO ETERNAL HONOUR.

IF MOTHER Teresa is declared a saint she will add to the record number of Catholic figures honoured by the Pontiff.

Dubbed 'the saint-making Pope', John Paul II has canonised more people than any other leader in papal history.

So far the Pontiff has created 37 saints during his reign.

The most recent was St Kinga.

Hungarian-born Kinga was declared a saint on July 16 this year, but her case took more than 700 years to be processed.

Kinga was honoured after a thorough investigation into her life and work both before and after death.

She lived a life of chastity - remaining a virgin even after she was married - and went on to become prioress of the Poor Clare's monastery she founded.

In all cases a person can only become a saint posthumously - and only if they are thought to have passed strict tests.

There is also usually a five-year waiting period but this has been disregarded in Mother Teresa's case.

Vatican officials must then be satisfied the candidate led a holy existence and performed at least two posthumous miracles.

Proving the miracles is the hardest part - so the Vatican has developed a rigorous system for deciding which stories it accepts.

A postulator - or examiner - is chosen to head an investigation. His job is to travel to wherever the miracle is said to have taken place and collect witness statements from the people involved.

A team of theologians discuss the validity of his finding but in most cases the most important analysis comes from medical experts.

Most miracles involve some form of physical healing, so the Vatican hand-picks a panel of 60 doctors to scrutinise all aspects of the apparent recovery.

The doctors - who do not have to be Catholic - are independent witnesses to the miracle.

The doctors vote on the discussion and two-thirds of them must be in favour for it to be miraculous.

Any final say comes from the Pope himself.

Two miracles must be accepted for the Pontiff to confer sainthood but if there is only one he can beatify a candidate instead - giving them the title blessed.

There are already 938 blesseds, 119 of them created by Pope John Paul II.
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Author:Donnelly, Claire
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 7, 1999
Words:365
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