Hundreds of Missionaries of Charity sisters in their trademark blue-trimmed saris had front-row seats at the Mass, alongside 1,500 homeless people and 13 heads of state or government, including Queen Sofia of Spain.
Pope Francis, bestowing sainthood said, “For the honour of the Blessed Trinity… we declare and define Blessed Teresa of 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.”
The pontiff praised her as the merciful saint who defended the lives of the unborn, sick and abandoned — and who shamed world leaders for the “crimes of poverty they themselves created.”
Francis held Saint Teresa up as a model for today’s Christians during his homily for the nun who cared for the “poorest of the poor.”
Speaking from the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis said Saint Teresa spent her life “bowing down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity.”
He added: “She made her voice heard before the powers of the world, so that they might recognise their guilt for the crimes of poverty they themselves created.”
Born to Kosovar Albanian parents in Skopje — she won the 1979 Nobel peace prize and was revered around the world as a beacon for the Christian values of self-sacrifice and charity.
In Kolkata, hundreds of people inside the headquarters of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity clapped with joy as she was proclaimed a saint.
They congregated around Mother’s tomb, which was decorated with a single lighted candle, flowers and a photo of the tiny saint. A caption on the tomb read ‘Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Pray for Us.’
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.