Blesseds or Saints? ~ Onesimus, Joanna, and Joseph Barsabbas

You many have seen the Bible Saints Onesimus, Joanna, and Joseph Barsabbas sometimes referred to as:

Blessed Onesimus
Blessed Joanna
Blessed Joseph Barsabbas

This is probably due to the fact that in the Martyrologium Romanum, their names are preceded by the words beáti or beátae, which mean "blessed," rather than sancti or sanctae, which mean "saint." 

Through some spoken and written dialogue with some really nice people at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I have learned a few things ...

1) In ancient texts, the word "blessed" was sometimes used interchangeably with holy or saint ... kind of like when we say "Mary, the Blessed Mother."  Even though we use the word blessed, she is still a saint.

2) It may very well mean the present day understanding of the word blessed, as in a really good person, but there is a certain lack of confidence to officially label the person as a saint.


Joanna (#2)

Joseph Barsabbas (#3)

A Response From USCCB ...
It's interesting that even in previous editions of the martyrology, these three were listed as "Blessed," and that, when their biographies were considerably enhanced and based on sources now considered unreliable. My guess is that information about them beyond their being mentioned in scripture has always been sketchy. Plus they have never had a cult of veneration established for them. The rule is that only canonized saints may be chosen as patrons of countries, regions, dioceses, places, religious institutes and moral persons; (a blessed may not be a patron without an apostolic indult). A liturgical celebration as patron is accorded only to saints chosen and appointed in accord with ancient usage or accepted as such by immemorial tradition. No special liturgical right belongs to other saints who are called patrons only in a wide sense, purely out of devotion. So, if these three have not had a liturgical cult, then they would only be considered blesseds.