Contrary to popular belief, saints weren’t altogether perfect people during their lifetimes—but it’s not good works alone that garner you a spot next to Francis of Assisi.
Step 1: Die Die. The Vatican usually requires a five-year waiting period after a person’s death even to begin the process toward sainthood. Even after death, you’ve got your work cut out for you.
Step 2: "Cause" initiated After five years, what is known as a 'cause' may be initiated with the individual’s local bishop and then with the Vatican’s Congregation for Sainthood Causes.
Step 3: Postulator leads investigation A postulator will lead the cause and serve in charge of the investigation of the deceased’s virtue and miracles attributed to him or her.
Step 4: Pope deems candidate "venerable" If the pope recognizes the candidate as having heroic virtues, the pope may deem him or her 'Venerable,' the first step toward sainthood.
TIP: Martyrdom, or dying for the faith, can also result in the venerable title.
Step 5: Two miracles required In general, the verification of two miracles attributed to the intercession of the candidate is required for canonization.
TIP: The miracles can occur during the person’s lifetime or after he or she is dead.
Step 6: Pope beatifies candidate After one miracle, the pope may beatify the candidate, the second step toward sainthood. The candidate is then called 'Blessed.'
Step 7: Vatican verifies second miracle If the Vatican verifies an additional miracle, canonization may follow.
Step 8: Intercede with God Should you make it to sainthood, expect to be very busy for subsequent millennia. Catholics pray that saints intercede with God on their behalf. That’s running some heavy interference.
FACT: During his pontificate, Pope John Paul II proclaimed 482 saints, more than all his predecessors over the previous 400 years combined.