Beatification, in the Roman Catholic church, an act of the pope whereby a deceased person is declared blessed previous to being canonized as a saint. The person must have bad a reputation for sanctity and supernatural gifts, and before the decree is pronounced a long and minute investigation is made into his or her merits, and this cannot be completed till 50 years after death. In early times the decree of beatification was pronounced by bishops, but in 1170 that right was reserved to the holy see by Alexander III., and has been held by it ever since.
Beatrice Portinari, the object of the poetical devotion of Dante, born about 1266, died in 1290. She was the daughter of Falco Porti-nari, a noble Florentine, and is represented as possessing remarkable graces of person and of mind. The poet first met her at a social party when she was but nine years of age, and was at once so affected that he became almost speechless. The story of his love is recounted in the Vita Nuoia, which was mostly written after her death. Dante saw little of Beatrice during her lifetime, but she grew in his mind and imagination to be the embodiment of divine truth, and in this character she appears in the Duina Commedia. She was married before 1287 to Simone dei Bardi, a citizen of Florence.
Beaucaire, a commercial town of France, department of Gard, on the right bank of the Rhone, 12 m. E. of Nimes; pop. in 1866, 9,395. It is opposite Tarasson, with which it is connected by a suspension bridge, and is near the junction of railways to Avignon, Marseilles, Cette, and Alais, by Nimes. It has considerable trade in grain, flour, and wine, and an annual fair in July, established in 1217 by Raymond VI., count of Toulouse, which was formerly the largest in Europe. The canal de Beaucaire, opened in 1773, connects the town with Aigues-Mortes.
Beaugency, an old town of France, department of Loire, on the right bank of the Loire, 15 m. S. W. of Orleans; pop. in 1866, 5,039. In 1152 a council was held here which divorced King Louis VII. from Eleanor of Aquitaine, who soon became the wife of Henry I lantagenet, then heir apparent of the crown of England. Beaugency was formerly surrounded by walls, flanked with towers and bastions, and protected by a powerful castle, the ruins of which still remain. The kings of France had a palace here in the 14th century. On Dec. 8, 1870, the German troops under the grand duke of Mecklenburg, after a successful light at Meung on the 7th, defeated here the French army of the Loire under Gen. Chanzy, who, on the evacuation of Orleans, thus vainly endeavored to cover Tours.
Beauharnois, a S. W. county of the province of Quebec, Canada, bounded N. W. by the St. Lawrence, and including Grand island; area, 200 sq. m.; pop. in 1871, 14,759. The Beauharnois canal, connecting Lake St. Louis with Lake St. Francois, runs through the N. border, and the Chateaugay river along the S. E. border. The chief staples are oats, wool, and dairy products. Chief town, Beauharnois, on Lake St. Louis, 18 m. S. W. of Montreal.