Meet one of the Vatican's saint-makers

On Sunday, the Catholic Church will do something it's never done.

It will declare two popes to be saints, on the same day -- John XXIII, who modernized the church through the Second Vatican Council in 1962, and John Paul II, who helped end communism in Eastern Europe, including his native Poland.

The church has been making saints for at least 1,200 years, and this month in Rome, CBS News met one of the men who does the work of raising mere mortals to the divine.

He makes saints?

"I make saints," said the Rev. Marc Lindeijer of the Netherlands, the Vatican's vice postulator of Jesuit sainthood causes, an investigator who fills red volumes with proof of piety for would-be saints. "Or God makes saints and I work on the proofs."

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The Rev. Marc Lindeijer of the Netherlands investigates would-be saints
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He does the paperwork?

"I do the paperwork," he said.

Are miracles still required?

"Miracles are still required," Lindeijer said.

And how does he establish evidence of a miracle?

"Normally we prefer miraculous healings," he said. "And I remember the day I came into the congregation and someone showed me one piece of paper and said, 'This is sufficient to prove the miracle.' Because here was a declaration that someone was healed from a horrible disease that was known by all medical science as completely incurable. And this person, from one moment to the other, was healed perfectly."

And that's enough?

"And that's enough," he said. "Well..."

A pretty good miracle?

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Souvenir shops outside of St. Peter's Square can be a measure of popularity
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"It's a pretty good miracle," he said.

A tougher miracle is lasting fame, which is also required.

The Vatican is always a very popular place, but how do you measure the popularity of a potential saint? How do you measure devotion? Well it turns out, right outside St. Peter's Square, there is a very good barometer.

"Souvenir shops are a very good criterion for devotion," Lindeijer said.

That's likely to surprise a lot of people, but that's one way that the faithful vote.

"That's how you measure popularity," Lindeijer said.

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Two popes will be declared saints
CBS News
Lindeijer says John Paul II refrigerator magnets still attract the faithful but the recently retired Benedict XVI is fading.

"If after five years that fame is still there, or even better, has become bigger, we have the first stepping stone for a process," he said. "And, then one starts hearing witnesses, gathering documentary evidence of that sanctity."

It used to be that the process of becoming a saint couldn't even begin until 50 years after a person's death. That changed recently to five years. Lindeijer thinks that's not enough time.



  • Scott Pelley

    Anchor and Managing Editor, "CBS Evening News;" Correspondent, "60 Minutes"

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