The Pope has just changed the way to become a saint for the first time in centuries 5 years ago

The Pope has just changed the way to become a saint for the first time in centuries

Pope Francis is all about making new rules.

Earlier this week he announced that he has banned gluten-free communion bread, much to the dismay of celiacs everywhere.

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And now he has made a major change to the path to sainthood, the first alteration of this magnitude in centuries.

Previously, there were only three recognised paths by which a person could be canonised: (1) Martyrdom, (2) Living the virtues of Christian life to a heroic degree, and (3) “exceptional cases” known as “equipollent” or “equivalent canonisation,” based on the confirmation of an ancient tradition of veneration of the saintliness of a person.

Pope Francis has now added a fourth path, by which people sacrifice themselves from others, which is separate to martyrdom, used for example by people who willingly work with those who suffer from highly contagious and incurable disease.

In a statement by the Vatican news agency, Pope Francis said: "They are worthy of special consideration and honor, those Christians who, following in the footsteps and teachings of the Lord Jesus, have voluntarily and freely offered their lives for others and have persevered until death in this regard."

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