Hundreds of Mother Teresa's admirers gathered for a Mass at St Xavier's College ground in Kolkata on the occasion of her 13th death anniversary, observed the world over as her 'feast day' or the day of spiritual birth in heaven.
"This is the birthday in heaven of Blessed Mother Teresa which we are celebrating today. This is in honour of the one who gave us a way of life based on the love of God and labour," main celebrant (leader of ceremony) of the Mass Archbishop of Kolkata Lucas Sirkar said.
Con-celebrants of the Mass included secretary in the Apostolic Nunciature (the Vatican's embassy) in India Fr Ricardo Jorge da Silva Cardoso, Bishop of Asansol Cyprian Monis, Bishop of Krishnagar Joseph Gomes, vicar-general of Kolkata Fr Mohandas, Archbiship Emeritus of Kolkata Henry D'Souza, and more than 60 priests from various dioceses.
Missionaries of Charity superior general Sr Prema and her predecessor, Sr Nirmala were also present along with a large number of MoC nuns, priests and brothers.
Teresa, who died this day in 1997, has been put on the fast track to sainthood by Pope John Paul-II who beatified her in 2003, declaring her 'blessed.' Since then, her death anniversary is observed as her 'feast day.'
Braving spells of rains, they sat in wrapt attention as the con-celebrants, in their homilies, recalled Teresa's love for the poorest of the poor.
In his homily, MoC priest Fr Brian Kolodeijchuk recalled that Teresa was once asked by a journalist what message she would give to a hungry child in Ethiopia.
"She answered: 'I would take the child in my arms, take him home, love him, feed him and tenderly take care of him.' This answer sums up Mother's life," said Fr Brian.
At the MoC global headquarters here, Teresa's feast day was observed yesterday as most of the nuns went out on work today. In some houses of the Order, pieces of cakes were distributed to 'celebrate' her spiritual birth in heaven.
"I am associated with her since my childhood. She is already a saint to me," said Susan Mantosh, a faithful. "I have created a Greek-style icon to pay tribute to her. I will donate it to the Archbishop's House."
Sunil Lucas, director of the Mother Teresa International Film Festival, said the large turnout was a fitting tribute to the Nobel peace laureate nun who is also known as the 'Saint of the Gutters.'