It’s confirmed: Mother Teresa to be made Catholic saint in September

  • AFP, Vatican City
  • Updated: Dec 18, 2015 11:30 IST
A nun belonging to the order of the Missionaries of Charity kisses a picture of Mother Teresa during a mass service to commemorate her death anniversary at the Missionaries of Charity house in Kolkata on September 5, 2012. (AFP File Photo)

Pope Francis has recognised a second miracle attributed to the late Mother Teresa, clearing the path for the beloved nun to be elevated to sainthood next year, Catholic newspaper Avvenire reported on Thursday.

Sunita Kumar, spokesperson for the Missionaries of Charity set up by Mother Teresa, confirmed the same to PTI.

Mother Teresa, celebrated for her work with the poor in Kolkata, is expected to be canonised in Rome on September 4 as part of the pope’s Jubilee year of mercy, according to the newspaper’s Vatican expert Stefania Falasca.

The move comes after a panel of experts, convened three days ago by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, attributed a miraculous healing of a Brazilian man with multiple brain tumours to Mother Teresa, Avvenire reported.

Teresa, who was born to Albanian parents in what is now Skopje in Macedonia, was known across the world for her charity work. She died in 1997 at the age of 87.

Nuns from the Catholic Order of the Missionaries of Charity gather in front of Mother Teresa's tomb as they take part in a mass to commemorate her 103rd birth anniversary in Kolkata. (AFP)

Nicknamed the ‘Saint of the Gutters’, she dedicated her life to the poor, the sick and the dying in the slums of Kolkata, founding the Missionaries of Charity order of nuns in 1950. She won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

She was beatified by then pope John Paul II in a fast-tracked process in 2003 that drew some 300,000 pilgrims. Beatification is a first step towards sainthood.

Her canonisation is expected to again draw large crowds to Rome for what will likely be one of the highlights of the special Jubilee year.

Catholic nuns from the Missionaries of Charity, the global order of nuns founded by Mother Teresa, pray at Teresa's tomb on her death anniversary in Kolkata, India, September 5, 2015. (Reuters Photo)

In 2002, the Vatican officially recognised a miracle she was said to have carried out after her death, namely the 1998 healing of a Bengali tribal woman, Monika Besra, who was suffering from an abdominal tumour.

The commission found Besra, diagnosed with tuberculosis and a cancerous tumour, got well after prayers by the Missionaries of Charity.

The traditional canonisation procedure requires at least two miracles.

For all the reverence with which her name and memory are treated, Mother Teresa was not without her critics.

She has been accused of trying to foist Catholicism on the vulnerable, with Australian feminist and academic Germaine Greer calling her a “religious imperialist”.

One her most vocal detractors was the British-born author Christopher Hitchens.

In a 1994 documentary called “Hell’s Angel,” he accused her of being a political opportunist who failed those in her care and contributed to the misery of the poor with her strident opposition to contraception and abortion.

Questions have also been raised over the Missionaries of Charity’s finances, as well as conditions in the order’s hospices where there has been resistance to introducing modern hygiene methods.

A series of her letters published in 2007 also caused some consternation among admirers as it became clear that she had suffered crises of faith for most of her life.

She was granted Indian citizenship in 1951 and received a state funeral after her death.

Her grave in the order’s headquarters has since become a pilgrimage site.

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