This post follows on from my piece a couple of days ago about the status of Charlemagne. It was written before the comments on that post were put there by readers who guessed whither I was going.
I sometimes find myself belaboured simultaneously from two standpoints. Extreme Ultramontanes attack me for the liturgical observance of King Charles I, who has never been beatified or canonised by a Roman Pontiff. For extreme Cismontanes, my error is in not calling the gentleman "Saint". Oh dear! Can Fr H never please?
When was Beatification invented? In a funny sort of way, beatification came before canonisation. This is true philologically: any who indulge in Latin liturgy will be aware that by far the commonest word in liturgical Latin for a saint is beatus, whether in the Canon or the Collects. It is also true juridically; because the essence of the former is: the raising of a particular person to the Altars of a particular, local Church ... not of the Universal Church. And, except for certain 'Biblical' Saints, every 'saint' began with a local cultus. Only later did he or she, perhaps, become a popular saint throughout the whole Christian world; a process which might grow naturally out of pilgrimage or the translation of relics. It is the notion of a Universal Saint which was secondary and gradually developed. And the declaration that someone fell into that category was a natural function of a Universal Primate. You would not expect the Bishop of Lesbos to have the right to dictate to the Bishop of Liege who was to be honoured on the calendar of his Church. So whenever a local Church wished to enhance supranationally the status of one of its own great sons or daughters, it obtained a Bull of Canonisation from the Holy See. The first known example seems to be from 993; and the system was in full flood a couple of centuries later when, for example, Ss Edward the Confessor, Richard, and Thomas Becket were so honoured by Roman Pontiffs. These instincts contributed to a process of Roman centralisation. And, as I pointed out a couple of days ago, "Paschal III" canonised Charlemagne.
But local initiative did survive the Middle Ages. According to that great and erudite Pontiff, Benedict XIV, the last known local act of locally raising a man to the Altars of his local Church was a Beatification of Boniface of Lausanne by the Archbishop of Malines in 1603 (the privileges and prestige of the great local Western Primacies took a long time to fall into abeyance). And one of the first actions of Benedict XVI was to send beatifications back to the local Churches. The legal processes, of course, continue to take place under the authority of the Holy Roman Church, but the significance of the act as inherently local has been reinstated. ('Benedict' seems a papal name linked with erudition and a broad understanding that 'Tradition' means something wider than 'What we've done for the last two or three centuries'!)
And what actually happened at beatification was nothing like the razzamatazz (etymology??) of the modern event. What occurred was simply that Mass and Office were authorised for use, with a clear indication of limitations. Thus S Philip Neri was beatified in 1615 simply by the granting of permission for Mass and Office to be celebrated in the Oratorian Chiesa Nuova in Rome. Pope Paul V made it clear that the privilege exended to nowhere else at all, and reminded the Roman Oratorians to celebrate Philip in a comparatively low-key way.
Charles Stuart was executed in 1649. In 1662, in the Provinces of Canterbury and York, Mass and Office were encouraged by both Church and State, and were universally used. This is why I regard a cultus of Charles as lawful. It is completely in accordance with precedent.
But the two English provinces of the Latin Church never claimed any authority to insist that Charles Stuart be given a cultus in Poland or Peru. And indeed, in the forms of service that came into use, Charles is not, as far as I have noticed, ever called Saint; while the B-word is used quite generously.
Hence, Blessed Charles Stuart. Beate Carole Rex et Martyr, ora pro nobis.