Pope Francis has formally approved sainthood for Mother Teresa and set September 4 as the date for her canonization. This is coming 19 years after the death of the missionary nun, who dedicated most of her adult life to working with the poor of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), in India.
The canonization, which was approved at a consistory at the Vatican today, will come up a day before the 19th anniversary of Blessed Teresa’s death, September 5, 1997.
There was no immediate word from the Vatican on the location of the canonization 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.
Mother Teresa’s first step to sainthood was in 2003 when she was beatified by Pope John Paul II. It followed a fast-track process involving the recognition of a claim she had posthumously inspired the 1998 healing of a critically-ill Bengali tribal woman.
In December last year, Pope Francis approved a second miracle attributed to Blessed Teresa’s intercession. That miracle involved the healing of a now 42-year-old mechanical engineer in Santos, Brazil, who was in a coma after being diagnosed with a viral brain infection that resulted in multiple brain abscesses.
This then met the Church’s standard requirement for sainthood of having been involved in two certifiable miracles.
The Albanian nun was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on 26 August 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia and joined the Loreto order of nuns in 1928. In 1946, while travelling by train from Kolkata to Darjeeling, she was inspired to found the Missionaries of Charity order.
Mother Teresa, who died in 1997 at the age of 87 was revered by many Catholics and won the 1979 Nobel peace prize for her work with the poor.
She was branded by many critics as a ‘religious imperialist’ due to her fervent opposition to birth control and abortion which they believed ran contrary to the interests of the communities she claimed to serve.