Pope Francis has added a fourth pathway to possible sainthood.
Until now, gaining consideration for sainthood in the Catholic Church required martyrdom, living a life of heroic virtue or — less frequently invoked — having a clear saintly reputation.
The Vatican announced Tuesday that the pope has issued a motu proprio “Maiorem Hac Dilectionem” outlining a new route: people who lived a good Catholic life and who freely accepted a certain and premature death for the good of others.
This is the first change to the main sainthood requirements in centuries.
Under the new category, a miracle must be attributed to the candidate’s intercession prior to beatification, the first step toward canonization as a saint. Martyrdom, which stipulates being killed out of hatred for the faith, does not require a miracle.