How does the Church decide whether someone is a saint?

The Roman Catholic process of ‘making saints’ is very different from the process the Orthodox Church uses to acknowledge that a person is a saint. When a person is ‘glorified’ (the term we use for the Church service that proclaims someone a saint), the Church is just formally recognizing the belief of the people that this person is a saint.
For someone to be recognized as a saint the Church as a whole has to recognize them, from the ordinary Orthodox Christian up to the most important bishop. The bishops investigate the life of this person to make sure that their life and teachings were Orthodox. There is no points system or a set number of miracles that need to be worked for someone to become a saint.

Of course, there are many saints that the Church hasn’t formally glorified. There are thousands of martyrs, monks, nuns and other Orthodox Christians that are saints of the Orthodox Church but known only to God.

The martyrs Raphael, Nicolas and Irene of Lesvos (right) are famous modern examples of saints that were known only to God.These saints were martyred by the Turks in 1463, but their bodies remained hidden in the earth and the story of their life and death was forgotten. 
In 1959, these saints began to appear in visions to residents of the village near to where their martyrdom took place and also to many lay people, priests and the bishop. In these visions, the saints described their martyrdom and the place where their bodies were buried. Following the information that the saints gave, excavations were carried out and their bodies were found. In this way, these saints became known to us. 
The Church on earth is made up of clergy, monks, nuns and lay people. We are all Orthodox Christians but we have different responsibilities. In the same way, among the saints are bishops, priests, monks, nuns and lay people. There are saints who died in peace and saints who were put to death for their faith. Saints that have died for the Christian faith are called martyrs. If these saints were bishops, priests or deacons then they are called hieromartyrs.


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