Glorification may have several meanings in the Christian religion. From the Catholic canonization to the similar sainthood of the Eastern Orthodox Church to the salvation in Protestant beliefs, the glorification of the human condition can be a long and arduous process.
For the process by which the Roman Catholic Church grants official recognition to someone as a saint, see canonization.
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Eastern Orthodox Church uses the term "glorification" to refer to the official recognition of a person as a saint of the Church. Like Catholics, Orthodox believers regard the glorification of saints as an act of God, not as a declaration by the hierarchy. The official recognition of saints grows from the consensus of the church.
When a person - as opposed to an "individual" - who has been sanctified by the grace of the Holy Spirit falls asleep in the Lord, God may or may not choose to glorify the person through the manifestation of miracles. If He does, the devotion to the saint will normally grow from the "grass-roots" level. Eventually, as the Holy Spirit manifests more miracles, the devotion to the person grows. At this point the Church does not conduct any formal prayers to the person. Rather, memorial services (Greek: parastas, Russian: panikhidy; singular: panikhida (Russian: панихида) take place at the grave of the person, with prayers for him or her—though an individual may pray privately to someone who has not yet been formally glorified, and even commission icons, which may be kept in the home but not displayed in the temple (church building).
Eventually, the evidence of a person's saintliness may grow to such a degree that the Church will schedule a formal service of glorification. Any bishop may perform a glorification within his diocese, though such services usually take place under the auspices of a synod of bishops. Often a formal investigation will ensure that the person was Orthodox in their faith, led a life worthy of emulation, and that the reports of miracles attributed to their intercessions are verifiable. The glorification service does not "make" the person a saint; rather, the Church simply makes a formal acknowledgement of what God has already manifested.
One possible sign of sanctification is the condition of the relics of the Saint. Some saints remain incorrupt, meaning that their remains do not decay under conditions when they normally would (natural mummification is not held to be the same as incorruption). Sometimes even when the flesh does decay the bones themselves will manifest signs of sanctity. They may be honey-colored or give off a sweet aroma. Some relics are claimed to exude myrrh. The absence of such manifestations is not necessarily a sign that the person is not a saint.
In some traditions the faithful will refer to a person being considered for glorification as "Blessed", though the Orthodox Church has no formal service of "beatification". Some fully glorified saints are also referred to as "Blessed", such as a Holy Fool for Christ (for instance, "Blessed St. Xenia") or saints who have been given this particular appellation (such as "Blessed Augustine", "Blessed Jerome", and others). In such cases the title "Blessed" in no way implies that such persons are less than fully saints of the Church.
The particulars of the service of glorification may differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but normally it involves the formal inscribing of the individual's name into the Calendar of Saints (assigning a special day of the year on which their feast day is to be celebrated annually), the chanting of a service in honor of the Saint (normally using specially commissioned hymns which are chanted for the first time at the glorification) and the unveiling of an icon of the new Saint. Before the glorification itself there may be a special "Last Panikhida", a solemn requiem at which, for the last time, the Church prays for the repose of the soul. After the glorification, the Church will no longer conduct a panikhida for the repose of the soul, but instead a Paraklesis or Moleben will take place to implore the intercessions of the newly-recognised Saint before the Throne of God.
Martyrs need no formal glorification. The witness of their self-sacrifice is sufficient (provided that their martyrdom came about because of their faith, and that there is no evidence of un-Christian behaviour on their part at the time of their death). Not all saints are known, and it is believed that many will remain hidden by God until the Second Coming of Christ. For this reason, on the Sunday after Pentecost the Orthodox celebrate all the righteous souls together on All Saints Sunday. In some jurisdictions, the Sunday following All Saints Sunday will be a day of general commemoration of all saints (known and unknown) of the local church - for instance, All Saints of the Holy Mountain, All Saints of Russia, All Saints of America, etc.
St. Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022) writes: "The saints in each generation, joined to those who have gone before, and filled like them with light, become a golden chain, in which each saint is a separate link, united to the next by faith, works, and love. So in the One God they form a single chain which cannot quickly be broken."
Oriental Orthodox Church
The Oriental Orthodox Churches also hold a doctrinal tradition similar to the Eastern Orthodox Churches whereby martyrs are not in need of any formal glorification. With time, the greatness of their sanctity which is venerated by the faithful is recognized by the Church. In the words of Armenian Patriarch H. H. Karekin II, "The Armenian Church doesn't sanctify. It recognizes the sanctity of saints or of those people that is already common among people or has been shown with evidence". This is in conformity with the tradition of other Churches in the Oriental Orthodox family such as Coptic Orthodox Church, Syriac Orthodox Church, Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Indian Orthodox Church. The instances of glorification of the 21 Coptic martyrs in 2015 or the victims of Armenian genocide of 1915 simply serve as official recognition given by the hierarchs to the steadfast faith of those who laid down their lives in defense of their Christian identity.
The Anglican churches practice canonization of saints, somewhat similar to the Catholic concept. There are two events that occur during glorification, these are "the receiving of perfection by the elect before entering into the kingdom of heaven," and "the receiving of the resurrection bodies by the elect".
Glorification is the third stage of Christian development. The first being justification, then sanctification, and finally glorification. (Rom. 8:28-30) Glorification is the completion, the consummation, the perfection, the full realization of salvation.
Glorification as a term is modified by its target, i.e. who is being glorified: God or the Christian? The third stage of Christian development is to glorify God through one's life, to decrease so that He may increase so that as others encounter a living breathing Christian who is walking in Glorification, they encounter Christ and perceive His Glory and His presence. This is attainable while living, just as justification and sanctification are attainable while living.
Receiving of perfection
Glorification is the Protestant alternative to Purgatory, as it is "the means by which the elect receive perfection before entering into the kingdom of Heaven." According to the theologies of most major Protestant groups, Purgatory is a doctrine of the Catholic Church, a holding place for those whose lives were dominated by venial sins but not guilty of mortal sins. On the other hand, to Protestants, glorification is a continuous, flowing process, whereby believers in Jesus the Christ, who have either died or who are raptured alive (called up into heaven), receive glorified, perfect bodies and souls, sinless and Christlike. Those still living on earth have no effect on the outcome of those believers who have died or are raptured, nor do they have an effect on those who die without Christ.
While purgatory deals with the means by which the elect become perfect, Glorification deals with believers in Jesus being given perfection. The majority of Protestant denominations believe in this concept of glorification or something analogous to it, although some have alternative names for it.
Receiving of the resurrection bodies
After the final judgement, all the righteous dead shall arise and their bodies will be perfected and will become a glorified body. Only then can they enter heaven. To paraphrase C. S. Lewis's Weight of Glory: "If we were to see them in their glorified forms we would be tempted to bow down and worship them."