Mostly single people are canonized or canonized, the rare variant is the canonization in the "double pack". Helmut Moll, commissioner for beatification and canonization in the archdiocese of Cologne, has published a monograph on this phenomenon.
CBA: Prelate Moll, why do "single" saints occur so much more frequently than married couples??
Helmut Moll (Representative for beatification and canonization proceedings in the Archdiocese of Cologne): Among the 6.600 canonized Catholics in church history, there are actually only 60 married couples. That's because the people who followed Christ mostly did it in a direct way – that is, they lived unmarried and in faithfulness to God. That is why many priests and religious have been beatified and canonized.
CBA: Is marriage itself possibly not so highly regarded by God? Finally, the apostle Paul writes: "But I say to the unmarried and to widows, it is good for them if they remain as I am. But if they cannot abstain, let them marry; for to marry is better than to be caught in the fire."
Minor: St. Paul comes from the Old Testament and says, "I want everyone to live like me". And he was unmarried. So he was there undivided for God, but the married man splits up. He wants to be there for God and for his partner. Jesus, however, also says that marriage is not the only thing, but that only those who are faithful and definite to each other are able to grasp it. And because even then there were hard-hearted, opinionated and selfish people – i.e. little filled with love – Jesus clearly states: Marriage is a sacrament, with the bond to God, and this bond is final.
CBA: Were the couples you describe destined to find each other in order to become saints together?
Minor: We distinguish two different types: There are the martyrs' couples; they lived until the time of Emperor Constantine and in the early modern period from the 16th century onwards. The persecution of Christians in Asia began in the nineteenth century. The other is the confessing couples: the partners have decided to live a consistent Christian life. In both types of marriage we find certain similarities between man and woman: in the case of the martyrs, marriage meant togetherness in life as well as in death. They died on the same day under the same conditions: by being burned or hanged on the gallows, or they perished by starving or dying of thirst in dungeons. In the case of the confessing couples, it is obvious that the conditions were very similar – they possessed a great spiritual congruence, they had the same way of life and the same educational prerequisites. Often they were also rulers of a country – like in Bamberg Henry II. and Kunigunde, – who did a lot for the church.
CBA: What makes a holy couple at all?? Must live it chastely and submit to special rules?
Moll: These people simply lived an entirely Christian life. The Italian couple Beltrame Quattrocchi had four children, the French Louis and Zelie Martin even nine. Sexuality was not forbidden. On the contrary, love was also shown in the fertility of marriage. Their motto was: If we have said yes to each other before God, we stay together, we stick together, we stand together. These couples may have lived in their respective times, but they had something supra-temporal about them. They have told each other once and for all: You and you forever.
CBA: You call your book a response to "today's divorce mentality". What can modern couples, 90 percent of whom have long since entered marriage untouched, learn from these deeply devout and demure couples?
Minor: About 80 percent of all young people wish that their partner would remain faithful to them. But they can't live it because today's society is very permissive and preaches the so-called culture of provisionality: "As long as I like you, as long as you are beautiful and I don't find anyone better, I will stay with you." When a supposedly better partner comes along, they drop the other like a hot potato. The married couples presented by me, on the other hand, were outstanding in their reliability, finality and faithfulness. Their form of marriage was not influenced by any zeitgeist and was therefore exemplary.