At the initiative of Felix Leseur and the Dominican Order of Preachers, the Bishop of the Diocese of Paris opened the Cause for the Beatification and Canonization of Elisabeth Leseur in April of 1936. This required the consent of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. At this step, the honorific title Servant of God was permitted.
Once opened, a Cause begins with the Informative Process, in which testimony about the life and virtues of the Servant of God are collected and documented. Also, the public and private writings must be examined. This phase concludes with the judgment of a diocesan tribunal, and the ultimate decision of the bishop, that the Heroic Virtues of the Servant of God have or have not been demonstrated. These results, along with the bound volumes of documentation, or Acta (Acts), are communicated to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.
It is not uncommon for the Informative Process to take a number of years, but Elisabeth Leseur’s Cause (81 years and counting) is exceptional. The Second World War interrupted the Process before it could be concluded, and while sporadic efforts have continued, the investigation phase remains formally active. It is our hope that renewed interest in Elisabeth’s Cause, as translation of her work into other languages enables more people to connect with her profound spirituality, will reinvigorate the investigation and allow it to proceed to examination and judgment by the diocesan tribunal.
This is only step one in the process to have her recognized as Venerable. Should the tribunal find her Heroic Virtues have been demonstrated, the Acta are committed by the Congregation to a Relator whose task is to superintend the Cause through the rest of the process. Working with a theological commission established by the Congregation, the Relator ensures that the Positio summarizing the life and virtues of the Servant of God is properly prepared. When the Positio is finished, the theological commission votes affirmatively or negatively on the Cause. This recommendation is then passed to the cardinal, archbishop and bishop members of the Congregation who in turn vote. Their vote determines whether the Cause lives or dies.
If the vote is affirmative, the recommendation of a Decree of Heroic Virtues is sent to the Holy Father, whose judgment is final. Once the person’s Heroic Virtues have been recognized by the Pope, they are called Venerable, e.g. Venerable Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur, or Venerable Elisabeth Leseur.
For additional information on the Process of Beatification and Canonization, please see this informative page on the EWTN website.