Mother Teresa receiving the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize Photo: Henrik Laurvik

Mother Teresa receiving the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize -Photo: Henrik Laurvik

Pope Francis canonized Mother Teresa on Sunday, only 19 years after her death.

Sunday, September 4, was a historic day for the Catholic Church, especially in India, as the day when Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta was canonized a saint. The Catholic nun is world-famous for her missionary work in the slums of Calcutta in India, and was greatly loved even before the canonical process was initiated. After years of waiting, the Catholics in India are finally celebrating her sainthood after the Pope officially gave her the title on Sunday.

Mother Teresa was an Albanian nun, working in India when she said she first got the call to start a new order which would serve the poorest of the poor. Following what she called divine inspiration, she founded the “Missionaries of Charity,” an order that now includes men too. This order specifically serves the poorest and most destitute people. As such, Mother Teresa and her sisters went around Calcutta, taking lepers and diseased persons from the gutters and taking them back to the home she had built. This radically charitable action of hers earned her the title “Saint of the Gutters,” even before her canonization.

Mother Teresa’s canonization is special in that her canonization happened faster than is traditionally done in the church. Usually, a departed person who is seen as a potential saint is honored for years before actually being declared a saint. However, owing to her obvious holiness, renown, and the pressure from her devotees, the Church decided to hasten up the process as there was no reason to doubt her sainthood. However, the Church’s usual condition that two unexplainable miracles should be attributed to the saint should have occurred was still insisted upon. This was fulfilled when two people came forward claiming miraculous cures through her intercession. One is a woman from Calcutta, who claims her stomach tumor was cured by praying to the saint. The other is a man from Brazil who attributes the cure of his multiple brain tumors to her.

The ceremony was attended by nearly 120,000 devotees, including Missionaries of Charity nuns in their white saris with blue borders. The Pope addressed the crowd by recalling the nature of the brave nun, who set a new standard to what was otherwise thought to be mercy. Pope John Paul II had approved the cause for her canonization as he reportedly had no doubts about her sainthood. Now, 19 years after her death, the late Pope’s belief has become a reality, much to the joy of the nun’s fans.

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