UPDATE: 4:50 a.m. EDT — Just 19 years after her death, Mother Teresa has been made a saint by Pope Francis in a ceremony at the St Peter’s Square in Vatican City on Sunday.
As tens of thousands of pilgrims flocked the Vatican, Cardinal Angelo Amato read a brief biography of her work, following which the Pope was asked to canonise her in the name of the Church, BBC reported.
“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 and we enrol her among the saints, decreeing that she is to be venerated as such by the whole Church,” said Pope Francis.
Mother Teresa, the founder of a Roman Catholic religious congregation called Missionaries of Charity, will be declared a saint at a ceremony in the Vatican at 10.30 a.m. Vatican time (4.30 a.m. EDT) on Sunday.
Pope Francis will lead the ceremony that will include a Mass and Canonisation in Saint Peter’s Square in Vatican City for the Nobel Prize-winning nun, who died at the age of 87 in 1997. In the first step towards sainthood, Mother Teresa was beatified in 2003.
Agnese Gonxha Bojaxhiu was born in 1910 to Albanian parents. As a child, she grew up in the current Macedonian capital of Skopje. At the age of 19, she joined the Irish order of Loreto, following which she was sent to India, in 1929. She adopted the name Therese while teaching at a school in the East Indian town of Darjeeling.
After moving to Kolkata (then Calcutta) in 1946, she set up a hospice and a home for abandoned children. In 1950, she founded the Missionaries of Charity, which now has more than 5,600 members and runs orphanages, hospices, homes for pregnant women and the mentally ill and other services across 139 countries.
In 2002, the Vatican recognized the healing of a tumor in the abdomen of an Indian woman as a miracle attributed to Mother Teresa. A second miracle was confirmed on Dec. 17, 2015, when Pope Francis recognized a second miracle that involved the healing of a Brazilian man with multiple brain tumors.
Her critics, however, claim that she was a symbol of Proselytisation who used funds from dictators to finance her charity work. Others also highlight the state of hygiene in the hospitals run by her foundation.
Mother Teresa was honored with a state funeral by India. While it takes decades after their death for people to be declared saints, the canonization process in her case was much faster with Pope John Paul II declaring her “blessed” in just six years. This is the highest honor bestowed, short of sainthood.