Canonization

A papal decree commanding public veneration to be paid to an individual by the universal church. It thus creates a cultus which is both universal and obligatory. Urban VII published in 1634 a bull which reserved to the Holy See exclusively its right of canonization. Papal authority is generally given only after a long legal process. In the primitive church, martyrs were the first to be publicly venerated by the faithful. From the fourth century, a cultus was extended also to confessors. The first historically attested canonization is that of Ulrich of Augsburg by John XV in 993. Canonization is said to confer a seven-fold honor: the name is inscribed in the catalogue of saints; his/her name is invoked in the public prayers of the church; churches may be dedicated to God in his/her memory; the Eucharist is celebrated in his/her honor; his/her festival day is observed; pictures of the saint show him/her surrounded by a halo; and his/her relics are enclosed in precious vessels and publicly honored.