Pope Francis on Sunday declared Mother Teresa of Kolkata a Saint of the Catholic Church in front of thousands of pilgrims at St. Peter’s Square. “We declare and define Blessed Teresa of Calcutta to be a Saint,” the Pope said.
“For the honour of the Blessed Trinity, the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the increase of the Christian life, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own, after due deliberation and frequent prayer for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brother Bishops, we declare and define Blessed Teresa of Calcutta to be a Saint,” he said.
Thousands of pilgrims, including world leaders, gathered in St. Peter’s Square to witness the canonization ceremony of the “saint of the gutters”. Saint Teresa of Calcutta, as she will now be known as, was officially elevated 19 years after her death. She passed away on September 5, 1997.
At the ceremony, Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity carried the relics of Mother Teresa – a wooden cross with the words ‘I thirst’ embossed on it.
The ceremony at St Peter’s Square began at 2 pm IST and was followed by an Eucharistic celebration. Thousands of Indians were gathered at the Square to witness the ceremony and to pay their tribute to the Indian saint.
A 12-member central delegation led by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and two state government-level delegations from Delhi and West Bengal, led by Chief Ministers Arvind Kejriwal and Mamata Banerjee were in Vatican City to attend the ceremony. About thirty five bishops from India were present at the ceremony.
Pope John Paul II fast-tracked Mother Teresa to sainthood – a process which usually does not start until five years after the candidate’s death – two years after she died in 1997. On October 19, 2003, Pope John Paul II beatified Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
(With inputs from agencies)