If saint quotas were a race, the Americas would already be starting at a nearly 1500-year disadvantage.

By the time Christianity was brought to the Native Americans, dozens of countries in the Eastern hemisphere had been practicing Catholicism for hundreds of years.

Does this setback soften the blow of the fact there are a mere 11 canonized saints from the United States and reportedly a whopping 1,726 canonized Saints from Italy alone?

We’ve got to step up our game!

Nothing like a little competition to spur your own pursuit of holiness. So, if you’re looking for some American inspiration, below is an impressive lineup of saintly Americans on their way to canonization.

This brief profile moves from people who are named either “Blessed” (one confirmed miracle away from canonization) or “Venerable” (someone without confirmed miracles, but formally recognized as having heroic virtue).

Beatified Americans

Blessed Stanley Rother grew up a small-town boy from Oklahoma before he was ordained a priest and left the States to serve the poor communities in Guatemala.

Guatemala was a country in great turmoil, and many Catholics were targeted and killed.

Father Rother’s name appeared on a death list and he was then brought back to the United States. However, he quickly returned saying, “The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger.”

Shortly after his return, he was executed in the middle of the night. 35 years later, he was named the first official American martyr.

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Blessed Stanley Rother, Julitomenchu, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Blessed Solanus Casey was born in Wisconsin to an Irish immigrant family. He became interested in the priesthood at a young age, but after joining the seminary, his poor grades ended in his dismissal.

From there, he began formation with the Capuchin Franciscans, which proved to be a good fit.

However, his grades continued to be a problem, and the order decided he would be a “simplex priest,” meaning, he could not peach or hear confessions once ordained.

For most of his priesthood, he worked as the porter, or the gatekeeper, for the monastery. It was here that ordinary people noticed his holiness in his willingness to counsel and serve the poor.

News of his powerful prayers spread and when he died, over 20,000 people came to view his body.

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Blessed Solanus Casey, Mahatma Gandhi, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Americans declared "Venerable"

Venerable Alphonse Gallegos was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but lived most of his childhood in Watts, California.

He always wanted to be a priest and had a strong devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Once ordained, he focused most of his priesthood on ministering to Hispanic communities in California.

Twenty-three years after ordination, he was named auxiliary bishop of Sacramento.

He was an effective advocate for Hispanics, immigration, labor rights, and the unborn. Popular with young people, he saved many kids from involvement with gangs.

In fact, a boy he saved from a gang at a young age reported miraculous healing from leukemia through the intercession of Venerable Bishop Gallegos.

When the family prayed for his intercession, they said Bishop Gallegos had saved the boy before and they knew he would do it again.

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Venerable Alphonse Gallegos, Public Domain

Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen grew up in a small town in Illinois before he moved off to college and then to the seminary.

Once ordained, he spent significant time at the Catholic University of America furthering his education and teaching theology and philosophy.

It was there his popularity grew due to his amazing oration ability. Eventually, he won an Emmy for the most outstanding television personality, made the cover of Time Magazine, and hosted the most popular religious television show in history.

By the end of his life, he’d written 66 books and influenced millions of lives by sharing the Gospel.

He was especially insistent on the importance of a holy hour, which he kept during his entire priesthood, eventually dying before the blessed sacrament in his personal chapel.

His recordings remain popular on YouTube today!

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Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Public Domain

These four Americans are shining models of holiness for our country.

Coming from humble beginnings, they caught the eye of the world by their heroic virtue and zeal for the gospel unto death.

Keep an ear out for their names, as people from around the world turn to their intercession in hopes of adding their names to America’s growing list of saints!

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