How to Become a Saint: The Step-by-Step of Joan’s Journey

by Northlight Theatre

Joan of Arc, St. Joan, the patron saint of soldiers and France, remains the only person to ever be both condemned and canonized by the Catholic Church. After her persecution and death in 1431, her mother Isabelle worked tirelessly to clear Joan’s name. In 1456, Joan was declared a martyr. In 1909, she received beatification—a recognition of a deceased person’s entrance into Heaven and their capacity to intercede on the behalf of individuals who pray in her name. In 1920, she was canonized by Pope Benedict XV.

While Joan’s path to sainthood took hundreds of years, for others, the path is not so long. Here are the steps to sainthood, believers take notes:

  1. Become a “Servant of God”

This seems obvious, but in order to become a Saint in the Catholic Church, you must, in fact, be Catholic and live your life according to the faith of The Church. Joan was raised devoutly Catholic by her mother.

  1. Demonstrate “Heroic Virtue”

    Jeanne d’Arc by Albert Lynch

A person with “heroic virtue” has a magnetic quality that brings people into the Church, to prayer, and closer to God. For Joan, this meant receiving the visions of Saint Catherine and bravely bringing them to the Dauphin with the conviction to lead the French army to victory against the English.

  1. Die

Yep. Die. And then wait at least five years to let those who mourn you recover enough to see your life more objectively. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431 because she refused to abandon her faith and recant her visions. While she was convicted of heresy, following her mother’s efforts during Joan’s Trial of Nullification, her contributions and ultimate death for her cause led to her recognition as a martyr. This is an important step on her journey to sainthood.

  1. Perform Miracles

While you’re waiting for the mourners, you can definitely get started on performing miracles, three for beatification and two more for canonization. Although technically Joan was exempt from the first three miracles because of her martyrdom, she performed them anyway; three nuns were miraculously healed from cancers after praying to Joan. On the path to canonization, Joan also reportedly healed a woman of tuberculosis and another woman of a hole in her foot.

  1. Achieve Sainthood

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You’re a saint. During the canonization ceremony, the Pope conducts a special Mass, reading aloud your life history and then chanting a prayer in Latin that declares you a saint. As mentioned above, Joan was officially canonized in 1920.

In all seriousness, achieving sainthood is an incredible honor acknowledging a person’s life and faith. For a complete list of Catholic Saints, visit