François de Laval

A bishop, a visionary, a bold man, a founder… and a Saint!

The Cause of Canonization

Step 1 : Diocesan Inquiry

The first step is undertaken in the diocese in which the Servant of God died.

This step entails gathering all of the writings authored by the Servant of God, as well as all historic documentation for study that will yield as much knowledge as possible of his/her life.

Eyewitnesses (de visu) and others who have received information about the Servant of God (ab auditu) are also questioned.

This documentation is then sent to Rome, along with appraisals by two theologians – whenever possible – assessing the orthodoxy of the writings created by the Servant of God

The four steps in the Canonization process

May 2, 1880

At the request of Msgr Elzéar-Alexandre Taschereau, Archbishop of Québec, an informative Inquiry into the life and virtues of François de Laval is initiated.

Step 2 : Heroic Virtues

Upon completion of the second step, the Servant’s heroic virtues are recognized and he/she can be referred to as “Venerable”.

The diocesan Inquiry file, when received in Rome, is officially opened and its validity examined by a legal expert.

The file is then passed on to one of the seven relators, historians who, with the assistance of collaborators, study the documentation and prepare the Positio super virtutibus – a historical biography describing the Servant of God’s practice of heroic virtues.

Judgement on this Positio super virtutibus is then pronounced by expert historians, followed by theologians, the Cardinals and, finally, the Pope, who approves and signs the decree on heroic virtues.

This is an important step, since it constitutes the Church’s declaration that such-and-such faithful defunct can be held up to Christians as an example.

Step 3 : Beatification

Completion of the third step results in the candidate being beatified.

He/She can now be designated "Blessed" and publicly venerated on a limited scale: in a single or a few diocese(s), or within the religious order to which he/she belonged.

Beatification, which is contingent on recognition of the heroic virtues, follows acceptance of a miracle attributed to the Blessed’s intercession. This is generally a cure that is examined by a committee of physicians who, based on current medical knowledge, cannot explain it or how fast it occurred. The cause is also examined by the theologians, the cardinals and the Pope.

Step 4 : Canonization

This step allows the use of "Saint" before the person’s name, as well as Church-wide veneration (Mass and feast-day).

To obtain a canonization, a miracle obtained after beatification must be recognized or the Pope must sign a decree of equivalent canonization after recommendation by a report that has verified that the three required conditions are present – existence of an ancient cultus; a general, ongoing attestation, by trustworthy historians, of the virtues of God’s servant; and uninterrupted recognition of favours received.

September 24, 1890

Pope Leon XIII signs the decree authorizing introduction of the cause of canonization for Msgr de Laval, who has been granted the title of "Venerable”.


At the behest of Rome, a new Inquiry is begun in Québec City.


The cause of canonization for Venerable François de Laval is referred to the Historic section of the Congregation of Rites, where new research is begun.

May 17, 1956

Publication of Altera Nova Positio: a collection of documents highlighting François de Laval’s virtuous and heroic life, prepared by the Historic section of the Congregation of Rites.

February 28, 1960

Pope John XXIII signs the decree on heroic virtues.


Canadian bishops send the Pope repeat requests for the beatification of François de Laval without examination of a miracle.

April 10, 1980

Cardinal Maurice Roy, Archbishop of Québec, announces the forthcoming beatification of Venerable François de Laval.

June 22, 1980

François de Laval is beatified by Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. At the same ceremony, the “Blessed” designation is also granted to Marie de l’Incarnation and Kateri Tekakwitha.

Jacques Lemieux


The title of “Servant of God” is granted as soon as work on a cause officially begins in the diocese.

Heroic virtues: Adherence to the Gospel and to Christ’s teachings, in the way the person lived his/her life.

Progression in François de Laval’s Cause

On April 3, 2014, Pope Francis proclaimed François de Laval a Saint.