Mother Teresa, the Albanian nun who dedicated her life to working with the poor and underserved in India’s darkest corners, was officially canonized into Sainthood by Pope Francis at the Vatican in Rome on Sunday. The ceremony outside Saint Peter’s Basilica was attended by thousands of clergy and supporters.
Though her canonization has been anticipated for some time, the rarity of such an event made it a huge event. Becoming a Saint in the Catholic Church is no easy feat. For Mother Teresa, her good deeds have been recognized for her years of service as founder of the Missionaries of Charity sisterhood.
Living in Kolkata (once known as Calcutta), Saint Teresa, who died 19 years ago, ran clinics for India’s desperately poor and offered comfort and medical attention to those who couldn’t get it anywhere else.
Pope Francis praised her care for the “poorest of the poor” and encouraged other Christians to follow her lead of service and of piety before God. He went on:
Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defense of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded. She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity. She made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crime of poverty they created.
The process of being officially canonized into sainthood is a long one that starts with the review of the potential saint by church officials. The next step is submission to the Vatican through a bishop. Then it goes through a couple more rounds of congressional review before eventually being evaluated by the Pope himself. One miracle posthumously leads to beautification. A second miracle attributed to the potential saint is the final step in the process toward canonization.
In Saint Teresa’s case, the first miracle happened after a 30-year-old woman in Kolkata said she was cured of a stomach tumor after praying to Mother Teresa. The second miracle happened in March of 2016 when a Brazilian man claimed his brain tumors were cured after his loved ones prayed to her.
The canonization of Saint Teresa is unusual, largely because most saints are not honored as such until centuries after their deaths. But following pressure from her devotees, Pope John Paul II granted the special dispensation in 1999 to begin the formal process.