The Vatican announced a new path to Sainthood for Christians called an oblatio vitae or a "free offering of one's life", which involves people who freely accept an imminent death for the good of others.

This news got my attention due to the fact that I have been saying that we are in a modern-day plague and Candidates for beatification under the new pathway could include Christians who tended to sick people with the plague who later died because of the disease, said the Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s official journal.

Pope Francis blesses palms with holy water as he begins Palm Sunday Mass at the obelisk in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican March 24. (CNS photo/Alessia Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo) (March 25, 2013) See POPE-PALM March 25, 2013.

Christians who lay down their life to save others, “following in the footsteps and teaching of Jesus”, will now be eligible for beatification, Francis said.

The new pathway to Sainthood has five main criteria, the Vatican said:

• The free and voluntary offering of one’s life and heroic acceptance of a certain and soon-to-come death;

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• A nexus — close relation — between the offering of one’s life and the premature death of the one who offers it;

• The exercise of Christian virtues before the subject’s offering of his or her life;

• The existence of fama sanctitatis — the reputation for holiness — on the part of the subject at least after their death;

• The performance of a miracle that occurred after the individual's death.

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