NOT KNOWN to express their emotion in public, nuns of the Missionaries of Charity (MoC) in Kolkata on Sunday cheered loudly, clapped and rang bells the moment Pope Francis declared Mother Teresa a saint.
Decked up with larger-than-life posters of the late nun, the Mother House — headquarters of MoC — and house of the saint, saw hundreds gathering since morning to witness the event.
While it was earlier decided that common people would not be allowed inside Mother House, the nuns opened the doors seeing the enthusiasm of the people, a large number of whom were foreigners. Mother House was kept open throughout the day as visitors poured in to watch the ceremony live on big TV screens and offer flowers at her tomb.
The Mother House was decorated with flowers, portraits of Teresa and lights. At the courtyard, a giant flex of Mother’s portrait was hung. Three large LCD screens — at the courtyard, at Mother’s room and inside the chapel — were installed to beam the event live. Another giant screen was installed outside Mother House for the crowd which spilled to the road. While visitors was restricted to the ground floor, around 300 nuns from across Kolkata gathered at the chapel.
In the afternoon, when the Pope declared the ‘Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’ a saint at Vatican City, the nuns and visitors broke into a loud round of applause. Earlier, a special mass was held at 6 am to celebrate the day.
The nuns, who don’t watch TV or use cellphones, were on Sunday glued to the large screens. “Nuns here don’t watch TV or use mobile phones. Sometimes, on special occasions, when visitors come from outside and they need to be shown some documentaries or on special days like today, large screens are installed,” said a sister.
After the ceremony was over, the sisters again gathered for an evening mass followed by special food. “There will be another special mass again at 6 am tomorrow. Also, the archbishop will organise a special programme on October 2 at Netaji Indoor Stadium,” said a nun.
The Mother House thronged with several visitors on Sunday. “I have come a week ago to be at Mother House during the canonisation,” said Pavlov, who had come from Mexico. Stephen Echen, who hails from France and works in Bangalore, said he had come to Kolkata because he did not get enough leave to go to the Vatican for the ceremony.
Commercial pilot and businessman Goutam Lewis, who was rescued by the Mother at the age of two while suffering from polio, flew down from London to celebrate with the nuns. “I have skipped an invitation from the Vatican to attend the sainthood ceremony because I wanted to screen my documentary film on her during this time,” he said. Octogenarian Sukumar Sen, who lives in Sodepur, donated Rs 1 lakh to the MoC. “The money is from my provident fund and gratuity,” he said.
Hasan Habib, a craftsman from Howrah, said he was fortunate to meet the Mother on more than one occasion. He held out an autograph book where the Mother had written — “Love others as God loves you. God bless you”, on June 26, 1994 along with her signature.