Pope Francis approves sainthood for Mother Teresa
Vatican: Pope Francis on Tuesday approved sainthood
for Mother Teresa, the missionary nun who was a symbol of compassion for her
care of the sick and the destitute. The pontiff set September 4 as the date for
her canonisation, elevating her to an official icon for the Catholic faith.
The move comes 19 years after the death of the
Albanian nun who dedicated most of her adult life to working with the poor of
There was no immediate word from the Vatican on the
location of the canonisation ceremony, which is expected to take place in Rome
with a thanksgiving ceremony held at a later date in the Indian city where
Teresa is buried.
Teresa, who was 87 when she died in 1997, was revered
by Catholics and many others around the world. She won the 1979 Nobel peace
prize for her work with the poor.
But she was also a controversial and divisive figure
with critics branding her a religious imperialist whose fervent opposition to
birth control and abortion ran contrary to the interests of the communities she
claimed to serve.
Despite posthumously published letters revealing that
she suffered crises of faith throughout her life, Teresa has been fast-tracked
to canonisation in unusually quick time, underlining her status as a modern-day
icon of Catholicism.
Teresa took the first step to sainthood in 2003 when
she was beatified by Pope John Paul II following the recognition of a claim she
had posthumously inspired the 1998 healing of a critically-ill Bengali tribal
Last year she was credited by Vatican experts with
inspiring the 2008 recovery of a Brazilian man suffering from multiple brain
tumours, thus meeting the Church's standard requirement for sainthood of having
been involved in two certifiable miracles.
Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu to Albanian
parents in 1910 in Skopje, now the capital of Macedonia.
She started her life as a nun as a teenager with a
missionary order in Ireland and arrived in India in 1929.
After more than two decades of missionary and charity
work, she founded her own Missionaries of Charity order in 1950. She was
granted Indian citizenship a year later.
Francis, who regards Teresa as the incarnation of the
kind of Church he wants to lead, met the by-then internationally famous nun
three years before her death, when he was still a bishop in Argentina.