The Steps to Sainthood
In Church tradition, a person that is seen as exceptionally holy can be declared a saint by a formal process, called canonization. This particular form of recognition formally allows the person so canonized to be listed in the official Litany of the Saints during Mass. Formal canonization is a lengthy process often taking many years, even centuries.
The first step in this process is an investigation of the candidate's life, undertaken by an expert. After this, the report on the candidate is given to the bishop of the area and more studying is done. It is then sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome.
If they approve it, then the person may be granted the title of "Venerable," further investigations may lead to the candidate's beatification and given title of "Blessed." At a minimum, two important miracles are required to be formally declared a saint. The Church, however, places special weight on those miracles or instances of intercession that happened after the individual died and which are seen to demonstrate the saint's continued special relationship with God after death. Finally, when all of this is done the Pope canonizes the saint.