In Brief

Pope opens new path to sainthood

Pope Francis adds fourth path to beatification for those who risk their lives in a heroic act of loving service to others

For centuries, the consideration for sainthood in the Catholic Church necessitated martyrdom, living a life of heroic Christian values or having a strong reputation for religious devotion.

Pope Francis yesterday added a fourth path to sainthood to honour those who sacrifice their lives for others.

The new category opens the door to canonisation for people who freely offered their lives for another, like an expecting mother who chooses to die so her child survives or a person who fills the shoes of someone condemned to death, the Associated Press reports.

Candidates could include Christians who tended to sick people with the plague who later died, says the Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s official journal. Or it may include someone like Chiara Corbella, a young Italian mother who missed her chemotherapy treatment for cancer to ensure her son survived, The Guardian reports citing the I-Media agency which specialises in reports on the Vatican.

The new pathway differs from martyrdom in that there are five criteria including that the person who sacrificed their life must also have performed a miracle, NPR reports. Miracles are usually the medically unexplained healing of someone, Reuters says.

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