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Saints Marching In, 1590–2012


Economica / NEW SERIES

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The Catholic Church has been making saints for centuries in the two‐stage process of beatification and canonization. We analyse determinants of numbers beatified and canonized (non‐martyrs) since 1590 across seven world regions. The number beatified is roughly proportional to a pope's tenure and a region's Catholic population, responds positively since the early 20th century to Catholic–Protestant competition and to secularization, and falls after the virtual ending of warfare between European Catholics and Protestants with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. There is bias in favour of Italy, then Other Western Europe and Eastern Europe countries, and against Africa, Asia, Latin America and North America. The number canonized rises with the stock of beatifieds not yet canonized, rises with Catholic–Protestant competition, and drops after the Peace of Westphalia. Regional bias is minor for canonization, given stocks of beatifieds. The last two popes before Francis, John Paul II and Benedict XVI are large positive outliers in numbers beatified, and John Paul II is also an outlier for numbers canonized.