Published on: 4:34 pm, March 15, 2016 Story By: Matters India Reporter
Vatican City: Pope Francis Tuesday cleared way for declaring Blessed Teresa of Kolkata as a saint and set September 4 as the date of her canonization.
The Pope also signed decrees approving canonization along with four others along with the 1979 Nobel peace prize winner.
The committee that approves elevations to sainthood met at Vatican at 9 am GMT (3:30 pm India time) and recognized a second miracle attributed to the world renowned founder of the Kolkata-based Missionaries of Charity congregation.
There was no immediate word from the Vatican on the location of the canonisation ceremony, which is expected to take place in Rome with a thanksgiving ceremony held at a later date in the Indian city where Teresa is buried.
Indian Catholics had hoped Francis would travel to India for the canonization ceremony but, barring a last minute surprise, it is expected to take place in Rome with a thanksgiving ceremony scheduled for the following month in the Indian city.
The Albanian nun was known across the world for her work with the poor, sick, old and lonely in the slums of the Kolkata, one of India’s biggest cities. She died in the same city on September 5, 1997, at the age of 87.
The canonization will take place on the eve of Mother Teresa’s death anniversary. The Church has already planned a celebration of her memory on that day as part of its Jubilee Year of Mercy.
The immediate cause for her canonization is the recovery of a Brazilian man suffering from multiple brain tumors in 2008. The Vatican experts recognized the miracle in 2015 thus meeting the Church’s standard requirement for sainthood of having been involved in two certifiable miracles.
Pope Francis met Teresa before he became pope, in 1994. He later joked that she had seemed so formidable he “would have been scared if she had been my mother superior.”
Pope John Paul II beatified Mother Teresa in 2003. A fast-track process then approved a claim by a Bengali tribal woman that she had been cured through the intercession of Mother Teresa, a year after her death.
More than 300,000 pilgrims had come to Rome for the beatification, the third step in the four-stage canonization process.
Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu to Albanian parents in 1910 in what is now Skopje in Macedonia. She arrived in India in 1929, having first spent time with Loreto nuns in Ireland.
She went on to found the Missionaries of Charity order in 1950 and was granted Indian citizenship a year later.
India granted her a state funeral after her death and her grave in the order’s headquarters has since become a pilgrimage site.
Many revere Mother Teresa but some, including Hindu radicals, have attacked her as a “religious imperialist.”
Australian-born write Germaine Greer and British author and religious critic Christopher Hitchens had accused her of contributing to the misery of the poor with her strident opposition to contraception and abortion.
In her Nobel acceptance speech the saintly nun described terminations of pregnancies as “direct murder by the mother herself.”
Questions have also been raised over the Missionaries of Charity’s finances, as well as conditions in the order’s hospices.
A series of her letters published in 2007 caused some consternation among admirers, as it became clear that she had suffered crises of faith for most of her life.