Is it wrong to believe my loved one is a saint?

There are thousands of canonized saints in the Catholic Church, but many more that have never been officially recognized for their sanctity. One or several of them may be your deceased family, friends, and loved ones.

Understanding the thorough process that goes into the Catholic Church officially canonizing a saint, Joe in Iowa asked Patrick Madrid if it was wrong to believe that a deceased loved one could possibly be a saint despite not having a formal canonization.

“Everybody who is in heaven is by virtue of that fact, a saint,” said Patrick.

He continued, “The Church, for her part, upon identifying a certain person as being in heaven and having performed miracles to verify that, et cetera, will declare them a saint. In that case, then the Church Universal is encouraged to not just venerate them but ask them for prayers.”

Canonization by the Catholic Church doesn’t do anything for a saint in heaven, but is rather a benefit for the Church here on earth.

If Grandma is in heaven, she is a saint. She isn’t canonized, doesn’t have a feast day on the liturgical calendar, and isn’t known around the world for her piety, but she doesn’t need that, explains Patrick.

“We need that but they don’t need that in heaven. They’re already as far glorified as they can possibly be and nothing we could add would change that. But it’s for us and the reason the Church canonizes saints is to hold them out as examples for us of men and women, boys and girls of heroic virtue,” he said.

So if you believe that your loved one may be in heaven, can you ask for their intercession?

We realize that we can never be certain, without a formal canonization process, that someone is truly in heaven. Even if their soul has been saved, it’s possible that they could still be in Purgatory. It’s always good to err on the side of caution, therefore; we never want to stop praying for a deceased loved one, even if we have a hunch that they could be a saint.

“There are some people in my life that I have really strong presumptions that they are in heaven, but I don’t know for sure. So I continue to pray for them but I always add, ‘If you are already in heaven, please pray for me.’ ‘If you’re already in heaven, please intercede for this need.’ That way you’re good either way,” Patrick explained.

All you angels and saints, pray for us!

Tune in to The Patrick Madrid Show weekdays at 8-11am CT only on Relevant Radio®.

Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.