Nobel peace laureate Mother Teresa elevated to sainthood

The sainthood ceremony, for which the Vatican could easily have issued twice as many tickets, comes one day short of the 19th anniversary of Teresa's death. Photograph:( AFP )

ANI Vatican City Sep 04, 2016, 02.22 AM (IST)
Nobel peace laureate Mother Teresa, the celebrated nun, has been proclaimed a saint of the Roman Catholic Church today.

Tens of thousands of people gathered to attend a service led by Pope Francis in St Peter's Square at the Vatican to honour the nun, also known as the 'Saint of the Gutters', who worked with the poorest of the poor in eastern Indian city of Kolkata for about four decades. 

"For the honour of the Blessed Trinity... we declare and define Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (Kolkata) to be a Saint and we enroll her among the Saints, decreeing that she is to be venerated as such by the whole Church," Pope Francis said in Lation as he declared the revered nun a a saint. 

From India, a 12-member central delegation led by Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and two state government-level delegations from northern Delhi and eastern state of West Bengal, led by chief ministers Arvind Kejriwal and Mamata Banerjee, respectively, are attending the function.

The sainthood ceremony, for which the Vatican could easily have issued twice as many tickets, comes one day short of the 19th anniversary of Teresa's death, at 87, in the Indian city where she spent her adult life, first teaching, then tending to the dying poor.
 
The sainthood ceremony, for which the Vatican could easily have issued twice as many tickets, comes one day short of the 19th anniversary of Teresa's death. 


'Pope had no doubt about her eligibility for sainthood'

Mother Teresa's legacy fits neatly with Francis's vision of a poor church that strives to serve the poor. The canonisation ceremony is the highlight of his Holy Year of Mercy which runs until November 8.

However, Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity (MoC) order have been criticised both during her life and since her death in 1997, but many Catholics revere her as a model of compassion.

The debate over the nun's legacy has continued after her death with researchers uncovering financial irregularities in the running of her Order and evidence mounting of patients' neglect, insalubrious conditions and questionable conversions of the vulnerable in her missions.
 
The debate over the nun's legacy has continued after her death with researchers uncovering financial irregularities in the running of her Order.


Critics say she did little to alleviate the pain of the terminally ill and nothing to tackle the root causes of poverty. Atheist writer Christopher Hitchens made a documentary about her called "Hell's Angel".

She was also accused of trying to convert the destitute in predominantly-Hindu India to Christianity, a charge her mission has repeatedly denied.

But Pope John Paul II, who met her often, had no doubt about her eligibility for sainthood, and put her on a fast track to elevation two years after her death instead of the usual five.

The miracles 

By historical standards, Teresa has been fast-tracked to sainthood, thanks largely to one of the few people to have achieved canonisation faster, John Paul II.

The Polish cleric was a personal friend of Teresa and as the pope at the time of her death, he was responsible for her being beatified in 2003.

Achieving sainthood requires the Vatican to approve accounts of two miracles occurring as a result of prayers for Teresa's intercession.
 
Achieving sainthood requires the Vatican to approve accounts of two miracles occurring as a result of prayers for Teresa's intercession.

The first one, ratified in 2002, was of an Indian woman, Monica Besra, who says she recovered from ovarian cancer a year after Teresa's death, something local health officials have put down to medical advances rather than the power of prayer.

In the second, approved last year, Brazilian Marcilio Haddad Andrino says his wife's prayers to Teresa led to brain tumours disappearing. Eight years later, Andrino and his wife Fernanda will be in the congregation on Sunday.

(WION with inputs from Reuters, AFP)