Beatification (from Latin beatus, "blessed" and facere, "to make") is a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person's entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name.
Local bishops had the power of beatifying until 1634, when Pope Urban III, in the apostolic constitution Cœlestis Jerusalem of 6 July, reserved the power of beatifying to the Apostolic See.
Since the reforms of 1983, one miracle must be believed to have taken place through the intercession of the person to be beatified, though the medical investigations of the Church are conducted privately and are therefore subject to speculation about their methods.
The requirement of a miracle is not relevant to the canonization of those who died in martyrdom, as their sanctity is evidenced by being killed in odium fidei (in hatred of the faith).
The feast day for a Blessed person is not universal, but is celebrated only in regions where the person receives particular veneration. For instance, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha was especially honored in the United States and Canada during her time as Blessed. The person may also be honored in a particular religious order, diocese, or organization, such as John Duns Scotus among the Franciscans, the Archdiocese of Cologne and other places. Similarly, veneration of Blessed Chiara Badano is particular to the Focolare movement; her case also demonstrates that, contrary to popular opinion, beatification may take place within a relatively short time after a person's death of an individual (for Badano, twenty years).
Practices under the Popes
Pope John Paul II (18 May 1920 – 2 April 2005) markedly changed previous Catholic practice of beatification. By October 2004, he had beatified 1,340 people, more than the sum of all of his predecessors since Pope Sixtus V (1585–1590), who established a beatification procedure similar to that used today. John Paul II's successor, Pope Benedict XVI, removed the custom of holding beatification rites in the Vatican with the Pope presiding; they now can be held where the subject lived with the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints designated to preside over the ceremony as Papal Delegate. The Pope himself still can preside, as happened on 19 September 2010, when Benedict XVI beatified John Henry Newman in Cofton Park, Birmingham, on the last day of his visit to the United Kingdom. Benedict XVI also personally celebrated the Beatification Mass for his predecessor, John Paul II, at St. Peter's Basilica, on the Second Sunday of Easter, or Divine Mercy Sunday, on 1 May 2011, an event that drew more than one million people.
Cultus confirmation is a somewhat different procedure, wherein the church recognizes a local cult of a person, asserting that veneration of that person is acceptable. Such a confirmation is more an official sanctioning of folk Catholicism than an active step in a canonization procedure, but the object of the cult may equally be addressed as "Blessed."