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 values or—less frequently invoked—having a clear saintly reputation. The Vatican announced Tuesday that the pope has issued a new law 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, reports the AP. 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. CatholicCulture.org reports the announcement came via an apostolic letter titled Maiorem hac dilectionem, or "Greater love than this," a reference to a line said by Jesus per the Gospel of John: "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (Read more Catholic Church stories.)