Vatican City, Sep 4 (IANS) Pope Francis on Sunday declared Mother Teresa of Kolkata, revered for her work among the poor, a Saint of the Catholic Church.
“We declare and define Blessed Teresa of Calcutta to be a Saint,” the Pope said, to a roar from the thousands gathered at St. Peter’s Square here, including many Indians who held or waved the Indian flag.
“We enrol her among the Saints, decreeing that she is to be venerated as such by the whole Church. In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
A mass of pilgrims flooded the Vatican on Sunday to celebrate the highly anticipated canonization of Mother Teresa, an event that Catholics and non-Catholics alike had looked forward to since the nun’s death in 1997.
BBC reported that many pilgrims arrived at the Vatican before dawn to get a good spot for the ceremony.
Cardinal Angelo Amato read a brief biography of the work of the Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa and then asked the Pope to canonize her in the name of the Church.
In his speech, the Pope also said: “For the honour of the Blessed Trinity, the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the increase of the Christian life, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own, after due deliberation and frequent prayer for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brother Bishops, we declare and define Blessed Teresa of Calcutta to be a Saint.”
Hundreds of Missionaries of Charity Sisters attended the event, along with several heads of state or government.
About 1,500 homeless people from across Italy were brought to Rome in buses to attend the celebration and then a pizza lunch served by 250 nuns and priests of the Sisters of Charity order, media reports said.
Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on August 26, 1910 in Skopje, Macedonia, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950.
After doing iconic work in the slums of Calcutta (now Kolkata) that won universal acclaim, she died in 1997 at the age of 87. She was beatified in 2003, the first step to sainthood.
Two miraculous cures of the sick after Mother Teresa’s death have been attributed to her intercession.
The youngest of three children, she attended a youth group run by a Jesuit priest called Sodality, which eventually led her to becoming a nun.
She joined the Sisters of Loreto at age 17 and was sent to Calcutta, where she taught at a high school.
After contracting tuberculosis, she was sent to rest in Darjeeling. It was on the way that she felt what she called “an order” from God to leave the convent and live among the poor.
The Vatican granted her permission to leave the Sisters of Loreto and to live her new call under the guidance of the Archbishop of Calcutta.
Catholic News Agency said Mother Teresa’s canonization was significant not only because it took place during the Jubilee of Mercy but also because it fell during a special September 2-4 Jubilee celebration for workers and volunteers of mercy, of whom Mother Teresa is widely considered one of the greatest.