Candidate must succeed through three steps — venerable, beatified and canonized — and have lived an extraordinary life of faith, good works, asceticism, self-denial and inspirational virtue.
1) The bishop in the diocese where the person died at least five years before opens a "cause." If it is determined the person lived a holy life, he or she is declared a "Servant of God."
2) The bishop chooses a "postulator" to oversee a "d i o ce san inquiry" to gather evidence on the candidate, including statements by witnesses and cases of miracles, to develop the "weight of cause." That is further supervised by a "relator" appointed by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, with careful pursuit for inconsistencies.
3) The case for sainthood is prepared as a paper called a "posito," which requires approval by the local bishop. It can run two to 10 volumes, each with 1,500 pages.
4) The Congregation for the Causes of Saints (25 cardinals and bishops) reviews the case’s merit, which may take years. If the Congregation and pope determine the servant led a virtuous life, he or she is declared "Venerable," completing the study of the earthly life.
5) A scientific board, appointed by the Vatican, investigates two posthumous miracles claimed in the case, with confirmation of one earning beatification and two sainthood. A board of five doctors must determine there is no other possible explanation for any medical cures. A wait can follow for valid miracles to advance the case.
6) All cures must be instantaneous and complete. If high standards for miracles are met, the pope bestows sainthood.