Throughout the entirety of his twenty seven year papacy, Pope Saint John Paul II canonized a total of 482 new saints. For comparison, Pope Saint Paul VI and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI only canonized 85 and 45 new saints respectively before and after him. (John Paul I canonized no saints.)
Why then, has Pope Francis named nearly twice as many new saints as JPII but in a fraction of the time?
Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints Cardinal Becciu gave a succinct, albeit simple, explanation as to why Pope Francis has named 898 new saints for the Church in total.
“Pope Francis has named the most saints because he had a group of 800 martyrs, the martyrs from Otranto. Pope Francis thus, has a higher number because this group raised the average number. If he didn’t have them, he’d be in the same normal range.”
Two months after his election to the papacy, Saint Antonio Primaldo and his Companion Martyrs were canonized at the Vatican. In total, 813 new saints were named that day.
Since then, he has only named 85 new saints, bringing his total up to 898.
Becciu also took the time to explain how the process of advancing a cause for canonization works. He said each month he goes to Pope Francis and presents the causes identified to be advanced by the Congregation.
“I bring him the dossier. I read all the causes we have, tell him about the processes and his and say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ So the pope has the final word after he sees the information, how the process is going and how the saint had lived.”