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Mother Teresa canonisation: Expats in Italy happy to see India in limelight

For Elisa, September 4, was the highlight of her life in Rome so far. She has lived on the fringes of a foreign culture for a year, but Sunday it was her nation, and her culture that were suddenly at the focal point of all discussion.

india Updated: Sep 05, 2016 01:11 IST
Manasi Phadke
Pope Francis leaves at the end of a mass for the canonisation of Mother Teresa of Calcutta in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican.
Pope Francis leaves at the end of a mass for the canonisation of Mother Teresa of Calcutta in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican.(Reuters Photo)

“Hold it up higher. Everyone here should be able to see it.” Forty-five-year-old Elisa Matthew was instructing her friends, who were unfurling the Tricolour at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City.

For Elisa, September 4, was the highlight of her life in Rome so far. She has lived on the fringes of a foreign culture for a year, but Sunday it was her nation, and her culture that were suddenly at the focal point of all discussion — be it the international media or over pizza and wine at Rome’s teeming cafes.

“Although the atmosphere in Rome is very welcoming for us, expats, we have always lived on the sidelines here. But today, it is a very different and proud feeling to see India in the spotlight in Italy like never before,” said Elisa, dressed in a demure brown salwaar kameez.

The Indian flag, hoisted by Elisa and her friends, stood out alongside an Italian flag, that another group had raised, amid thousands of people from different nationalities and race. The crowd stood in stoic silence, broken only by the soft clang of church bells and accordions lilting music.

Like Elisa, Nibin Matthew and Smijo Anthony, both Indian expats in Italy, travelled over 300km from Salerno, in the south of Italy, to Rome on Sunday to be a part of the historic event, wearing their love for their birth country on their sleeves.

“It is a proud moment for us to see people talking about Mother Teresa’s love for India and her work in India,” said 27-year-old Nibin who has been living in Italy for nine years and works with a manufacturing company.

Minutes before the canonisation ceremony was set to begin, 55-old Rajan Vaidyakkare was clicking selfies with his wife, Jancy, to send to his folks back home in Kerala. Living and working in Rome, Rajan and Jancy say India has given them a number of occasions to feel proud in Rome.