an equivalent canonization
On Thursday, 10 May, Pope Benedict XVI extended to the Universal Church the liturgical worship in honour of St Hildegard of Bingen. This is a typical case of “equivalent canonization”. But what does that mean?
In his work De Servorum Dei beatificazione et de Beatorum canonizatione, Bennedict XIV formulated the doctrine on equivalent canonization; when the Pope enjoins the Church as a whole to observe the veneration of a Servant of God not yet canonized by the insertion of his feast into the Liturgical Calendar of the Universal Church, with Mass and the Divine Office. With this Pontifical act - writes Fabijan Veraja in his book Le cause di canonizzazione dei santi (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1992) – Benedict XVI perceives the extremes of a true canonization, that is, of a definitive judgment from the Pope on the sanctity of a Servant of God.
This judgement, however, is not expressed with the usual formula of canonization, but through a decree obliging the entire Church to venerate that Servant of God with the cultus reserved to canonized saints. Many examples of this form of canonization date back to the Pontificate of Benedict XIV; for example, Saints Romualdo (canonized 439 years after his death), Norbert, Bruno, Pietro Nolasco, Raimondo Nonnato, Giovanni di Matha, Felice de Valois, Queen Margaret of Scotland, King Stephen of Hungary, Wenceslaus, Duke of Bohemia, and Pope Gregory VII.
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