Late Mother Teresa to be made saint by Vatican
The late Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the Nobel laureate who dedicated her life to helping the poorest of the poor, will be made a saint of the Roman Catholic Church in September 2016, the Vatican announced yesterday.
It said Pope Francis had cleared the way for her sainthood by approving a decree recognising a miracle attributed to her intercession with God.
Mother Teresa, who died in 1997 at the age of 87 and was known as the "saint of the gutters", is expected to be canonised in early September. It was not clear if the ceremony would take place in Rome or India.
A panel of experts, convened three days ago by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, attributed the miraculous healing to Mother Teresa, Avvenire's Vatican expert Stefania Falasca reported.
Mother Teresa, who was born to Albanian parents in what is now Skopje in Macedonia, was known across the world for her charity work.
Nicknamed the "Saint of the Gutters", she dedicated her life to the poor, the sick and the dying in the slums of Kolkata, one of India's biggest cities, founding the Missionaries of Charity order of nuns there. She won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.
She was beatified by then pope John Paul II in a fast-tracked process in 2003, in a ceremony attended by some 300,000 pilgrims. Beatification is a first step towards sainthood.
Her missionary order in Kolkata - formerly known as Calcutta - said it was "thrilled" and grateful to the Pope.
Sunita Kumar, a missionary spokeswoman who worked closely with Mother Teresa, said the late nun was an extraordinary woman who believed hard work was the best way to serve God.
"She of course read the Bible but her main understanding was to serve the poor," Ms Kumar said. "Look at the work she did, not a day's holiday, not a day's rest."
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.
Mother Teresa was not without her critics.
She has been accused of trying to foist Catholicism on the vulnerable, with Australian feminist and academic Germaine Greer calling her a "religious imperialist".
One of her most vocal detractors was the British-born author Christopher Hitchens. In a 1994 documentary called 'Hell's Angel', he accused her of being a political opportunist who failed those in her care and contributed to the misery of the poor with her strident opposition to contraception and abortion.