Vatican City/Kolkata: Mother Teresa will be made a saint on 4 September, Pope Francis announced today, 19 years after the death of the Nobel Laureate who spent 45 years serving the poor and sick on the streets of Kolkata.
"Pope Francis today approved Mother Teresa's elevation to sainthood and set 4 September as the date for her
canonisation," said a message from the Vatican to the Mother's House, the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata.
Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity and spent 45 years serving the poor, the sick, the orphaned, and the dying on the streets of Kolkata. She died at the age of 87 in Kolkata in 1997.
The elevation of Mother Teresa to sainthood came after the Church recognised a second miracle earlier, the Missionaries of Charity said.
"We have now received an official confirmation from Vatican that Pope Francis has approved Mother's sainthood and set 4 September as the date for her canonisation. We are very excited and happy about it," Missionaries of Charity spokesperson Sunita Kumar told PTI.
Archbishop Thomas D'Souza said that the canonisation is a formality, but an important one. "This is the last step that the Pope needs the cardinal and sign the decree," D'Souza said.
The Missionaries of Charity and other Christian associations in Kolkata are planning a big thanksgiving Holy Mass on 2 October at the Netaji Indoor Stadium in Kolkata.
Nuns at the Missionaries of Charity said the canonisation in Rome will have a special universal significance because of the Mother's popularity.
Sister Prema and Archbishop D'Souza will go to Rome to attend the canonisation.
More than 300,000 pilgrims went to Rome in 2003 for Teresa's beatification – the first step towards sainthood.
Mother Teresa was born Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu of Albanian parents in Macedonia in 1910 in what was then part of the Ottoman Empire. After having lived in Macedonia for some 18 years, she moved to Ireland and then to India, where she lived for most of her life.
She was granted Indian citizenship in 1951 and received a state funeral after her death. Archbishop D'souza said they were planning a big celebration in Kolkata in September to mark the occasion where delegates from different parts of the country will participate.
Besides a religious programme which includes a Holy Mass, there will also be a civil programme where dignitaries will be present.
Missionaries of Charity spokesperson Kumar said the nuns also had a special mass and prayers this evening.
Mother Teresa, who will now be a Saint of the Roman Catholic Church, was beatified by then Pope John Paul II in a fast-tracked process in 2003.
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 traditional canonisation procedure requires at least two miracles.
"The first miracle was performed in Kolkata many years ago. The second one was performed in Brazil, where a person had been healed miraculously as a result of her earlier prayers," Kumar said, adding that such miracles were known to happen even after the death of a saint.
Kumar, who worked closely with the Mother, said the late nun was an extraordinary woman who believed that hard work was the best way to serve God.