How old do you have to be to become a saint? Dominic College Feast Day Mass

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > How old do you have to be to become a saint? Dominic College Feast Day Mass


How old do you have to be to become a saint? The Church recently canonised Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. Both were popes and both died in old age. St Mary Mackillop also lived to old age. So is it necessary to live a long life to become a saint?

What makes a person be considered a saint? Do they have to do a lot of extraordinary things? Do they have to show that they are holy over a long period of time?

What are the requirements to be considered a saint?

Today let us take a moment to look at what made Dominic Savio a saint. I am sure you have learnt a lot about him, but let us try and find out what made him a saint.

He came from a very poor family in northern Italy. He was born in 1842. From an early age there was something about Dominic. His family were good Catholics and the life of the family did centre on the faith. Dominic was naturally good. He was attracted to prayer from an early age and prayed every day. He became an altar boy at the age of five and used to go to daily Mass. He was attracted to the life of faith.

At the age of twelve Dominic entered the school run by John Bosco. At school Dominic was a very capable student. He was a happy character and a leader (Don Bosco had great hopes for him). At times he was bullied by his classmates. He just accepted this and did not retaliate. Gradually he won their respect. He was falsely accused by his classmates and did not defend his innocence. When asked why he simply said that Jesus was falsely accused and accepted it. Dominic was an ordinary boy but there was something extraordinary about him.

One day Dominic began to feel sick – he had caught tuberculosis - and was sent home to get better. While at home he grew worseand received the last Sacraments. He was only fifteen. He did not fear death and just before he died his face lit up and he said, "I am seeing such wonderful things!" They were his last words. He was canonized a saint in 1954.

So what can we learn about being a saint from St Dominic Savio?

Firstly, you don’t have to live to old age. He is a boy saint. The martyr Agnes was about the same age. St Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, died at the age of 24.

Secondly, you don’t have to do extraordinary things. Dominic was a student who did not do anything particularly extraordinary. So it is not what you do that is important.
So what was it about Dominic. It was clearly the sort of person he was. He clearly had a deep faith and a real love of God. I think this was a special gift that he had. It came from his family. But it also was his own choice. He wanted to be close to God.

The other thing about Dominic was that he was no softy. He had the courage of his convictions. He did not just conform to his classmates expectations in their lower ideals. He was his own man.

One final thing about Dominic was that he was a happy person. As such he was an attractive personality. People liked him. People were attracted to him.

St John Paul II used to often say to young people that they are called to be saints. It is clear that Dominic wanted to be a saint. We are all called to be saints. It is not just something for a few but it is for everyone. St Dominic Savio shows that it is possible even from a young age.

In the first reading today St Paul gave some good advice.
Firstly he said, “I want you to be happy”. Dominic shows that when you are trying to be a saint you become a happy person. Heaven is about being happy forever.

Then he says, “Show a kind and gentle attitude towards everyone”. Let’s do that. Let’s be kind. Let’s be gentle. Let us show that our concern is for the good of others, and not just about myself.

Finally he says, “Fill your minds with those things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely and honourable”. Let us look at what goes into our minds. Don’t fill your minds with rubbish. Avoid those things which are damaging to our minds. Let us look for the good, the pure, the true, the honourable.

So I say to each student here today: decide to be a saint!

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Monday, May 19, 2014