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Three Humanitarians Who Became Saints

A perfect, productive and sustainable relationship with faith-based organizations has been fueling our compassion since the very beginning of Raptim. Whether you are on a short-term or long-term mission, the compassion of faith-based humanitarian travelers keeps inspiring us.

How do you become a saint?

Today, our work extends to church groups, missionaries, and clergy of different religions, such as Catholicism. Among the most famous Catholics are saints, some of whom are humanitarians. That might be something many of you don’t know. Becoming a saint is a long-lasting process. It consists of five steps, which all take many years to complete. That’s why this process can take many decades.

  1. It all starts with the person’s local Bishop. They investigate the life by gathering information from witnesses of their life and any writings they may have written. It’s up to the Bishop to find them to be worthy of being a saint. If he does, the Bishop submits the information he gathered to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
  2. The next step is up to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. They can choose to reject the application or accept it and begin their own investigation of the person’s life. This can take a while.
  3. If the Congregation approves the candidate, they can choose to declare that the person lived a heroically virtuous life. Mind you; this isn’t a declaration that the individual is in heaven, but that he or she pursued holiness while here on earth.
  4. It requires a miracle that has taken place through the intercession of that person to be called a saint. The miracle is usually a healing. The healing has to be instantaneous, permanent and complete while also being scientifically unexplainable. Miracles have to be first verified as scientifically unexplainable by a group of independent doctors, then the person is approved by a panel of theologians and then the final approval lies with the pope. If this is the case, a person is declared a blessed.
  5. A second miracle is needed in order to declare someone a saint. The confirmation of a second miracle goes through the same scrutiny as the first.

Since the birth of Jesus, hundreds of Christians have been declared saints. Among them are humanitarians, such as:

  1. Elizabeth Ann-Seton
    She was the first native-born citizen of the United States to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. Born a true daughter of the American Revolution on August 28, 1774, just two years before the Declaration of Independence. By birth and marriage, she was linked to the first families of New York and enjoyed the fruits of high society. She founded the first American religious community for women, the Sisters of Charity and opened the first American parish school. Through her lifespan of just 46 years, she also established the first American Catholic orphanage. Pope Paul VI canonized her on September 14, 1975, in a ceremony in St. Peter's Square. Elizabeth Seton is the patron saint of seafarers.
  2. Mother Theresa
    She was an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary. She’s known in the Catholic Church as Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950. This is a Roman Catholic religious' congregation, which in 2012 consisted of over 4,500 sisters and was active in 133 countries. They run homes for people dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy, and tuberculosis. Teresa was the recipient of numerous honors, including the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. On 4 September 2016, she was recognized by the Catholic Church as a saint.
  3. Pope John Paul II
    While his thoughts on some subjects were cause of discussion, people can’t deny his contribution to ending apartheid in South-Africa. In 1985, while visiting the Netherlands, he gave a speech at the International Court of Justice, proclaiming that "No system of apartheid or separate development will ever be acceptable as a model for the relations between peoples or races." Three years later he made a pilgrimage to ten Southern African countries, including those bordering South Africa, while demonstratively avoiding South Africa. During his visit to Zimbabwe, John Paul II called for economic sanctions against South Africa's government. After John Paul II's death, famous humanitarians Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu praised the Pope for defending human rights and condemning economic injustice.

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