Pope Francis declares Mother Teresa a saint in presence of 100,000 pilgrims722 views
The sainthood ceremony came a day short of the 19th anniversary of Teresa’s death, at 87.
Vatican City: Pope Francis declared Mother Teresa a saint on Sunday, honoring the tiny nun for having taken in society’s most unwanted and for having shamed world leaders for the “crimes of poverty they themselves created.”
Francis held up Mother Teresa as the model for a Catholic Church that goes to the peripheries to find poor, wounded souls during a canonization Mass that drew an estimated 120,000 people – rich and poor, powerful and homeless – to a sun-filled St. Peter’s Square.
“Let us carry her smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along our journey, especially those who suffer,” Francis said in his homily.
The canonization was the highlight of Francis’ Holy Year of Mercy and may come to define his entire papacy, which has been dedicated to ministering to society’s most marginal, from refugees to prostitutes, the sick, poor and elderly.
Applause erupted in St. Peter’s Square even before Francis finished pronouncing the rite of canonization, evidence of the admiration Mother Teresa enjoyed from Christians and non-Christians alike during her life and after her 1997 death.
Pope Francis presided over a solemn canonisation mass in the presence of 100,000 pilgrims and with a giant haloed portrait of Teresa smiling down from St Peter’s Basilica.
The sainthood ceremony, for which the Vatican could easily have issued twice as many tickets, came a day short of the 19th anniversary of Teresa’s death, at 87, in the Indian city where she spent her adult life, first teaching, then tending to the dying poor.
More than 100,000 pilgrims attended a service led by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican to honour the tiny nun who worked among the world’s neediest in the slums of the Indian city now known as Kolkata.
Her legacy fits neatly with Francis’s vision of a poor church that strives to serve the poor, and the ceremony will be a highlight of his Holy Year of Mercy which runs until November 8.
Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity (MoC) order have been criticised both during her life and since her death in 1997 – prominently by intellectuals such as British-American writer Christopher Hitchens and feminist Germaine Greer, but many Catholics revere her as a model of compassion.
Critics say she did little to alleviate the pain of the terminally ill and nothing to tackle the root causes of poverty. Atheist writer Hitchens made a documentary about her called “Hell’s Angel”, and wrote a book.
She was also accused of trying to convert the destitute in predominantly-Hindu India to Christianity, a charge her mission has repeatedly denied.
But Pope John Paul II, who met her often, had no doubt about her eligibility for sainthood, and put her on a fast track to elevation two years after her death instead of the usual five.
Thousands attended a papal audience on Saturday in the Vatican, where a large canvas of the late nun in her blue-hemmed white robes hung from St. Peter’s basilica.
“Her testimony makes us reflect and transform…and make a better world,” Brazilian priest Carlos Jose Nacimento said.
The Church defines as saints those believed to have led such holy lives they are now in Heaven and can intercede with God to perform miracles – two of which are needed to confer sainthood.
She is credited with healing an Indian woman from stomach cancer in 1998 and a Brazilian man from a brain infection in 2008.