Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Wednesday 28 February |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Tymoteusz Trojanowski
Aleteia logo
separateurCreated with Sketch.

These bishops were the first saints officially canonized by a pope


Public Domain

Philip Kosloski - published on 11/01/18

Historians point to these two saints as the first to undergo a more formal canonization process.
Without donors, Aleteia's future is uncertain.
Join our Lenten Campaign 2024.

While all are called to holiness, from the very beginning the Church has signaled out certain individuals who responded to Christ’s call of discipleship in an extraordinary fashion.

These men and women were called “sanctus” in Latin, or “saints” in English; the word simply means “holy.”

In the early Church this title was applied by local bishops almost exclusively to martyrs, those who suffered heroically for the faith under Roman persecution. On occasion this was extended to holy men and women who did not die for the faith, but who lived a holy life that was worthy of imitation. This typically meant bishops, priests or religious who made a profound impact on the growing Church.

For many centuries deceased individuals were “canonized” only by the local bishop. The anniversary of their deaths would be celebrated by the local Church and churches would be built over their tombs. However, the celebration of their sanctity remained at the local level as a bishop only has jurisdiction over one geographical region.

Over time this led to certain disputes and abuses, which could only be resolved by the pope. Historians believe this is what happened with St. Ulrich of Augsburg in 993, the first undisputed example of papal canonization.

On the other hand, some historians point to St. Swidbert in 804 as the first saint to be canonized by a pope.

The process for canonization wouldn’t be formalized until 1234, which would further be refined in 1588 when the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints was established.

Here is a brief look at these two saints, the first to be officially canonized by the leader of the universal Church.

Read more:
The saint-makers: Why did Popes John Paul II, Benedict and Francis canonize so many saints?

US saints

Read more:
List of Saints from the United States of America

Church HistorySaints
Support Aleteia!

Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Thanks to their partnership in our mission, we reach more than 20 million unique users per month!

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting and transformative Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Support Aleteia with a gift today!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.