This is a typical case of “equivalent canonization”.

About the elevation of St. Hildegard of Bingen the official role of saints of Holy Church.  I wrote about that HERE.

I would add that cases of “equivalent canonization” are not exactly “typical” in the sense that they are common.  This is “typical” in the sense that it is similar to other rare cases.

What is 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 [of happiest memory!] 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.

May 12, 2012

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Andrew says:

    Would there be an official pontifical document for this?

  2. Elizium23 says:

    I find this rather confusing! I recently had to explain to someone why St. Christopher is still a saint, and my own beloved St. Katherine of Alexandria, well, you know her story. Thanks for bringing this unusual situation to light. I think I understand a little better now.

  3. Nicole says:

    That is interesting…I always wondered where St. Wenceslaus fit into everything…

  4. heway says:

    Does she have a special day yet? Have been waiting for this to for some time!

  5. mpolo says:

    Hildegard of Bingen has been on the National calendar for Germany with the title of “Saint” for some time. Doesn’t that mean that the confirmation of cult had already occurred at some time in the past, even though the saint hadn’t been placed in the Calendarium Romanum?

  6. asperges says:

    When the Normans invaded England in 1066, they found many saints they had never heard of but who had acquired their stamp of sainthood by tradition and acclamation over the centuries rather than formal central recognition. Many or most were quickly assimilated into the liturgical calendar of the time.

  7. Gulielmus says:

    I think sometimes the word “equipollent” is used as well in these cases, and especially for beatifications.

  8. Fr.WTC says:

    And let us not forget in such an illustrious list of saints, Saint Philomena whose cult was confirmed by Blessed Pius IX.

  9. Her feast day (long celebrated in Germany) is September 17. For those of us who study and admire St. Hildegard, this has been a long-time coming–and I can finally delete those awkward footnotes with which I have to begin any paper on Hildegard by explaining that she is kinda-sorta a saint, but not completely, because the cause was never completed, etc.!

    The extension of the cultus to the universal Church is really more a necessary stepping-stone to the proclamation of Hildegard as a Doctor of the Church, set for later this year (October, according to my correspondence with the nuns at her Abbey in Eibingen). It was rumored that Pope John Paul II had considered doing so years ago, but had resisted because Hildegard had become a vanguard figure to feminists; I think Pope Benedict was much more willing to take the plunge because he’s long had a soft-spot for her, both as a German and as a scholar of medieval theologies of history and reformist apocalypticism.

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