A messiah for many poor and needy people, Mother Teresa was like a living saint.
We have read a lot of her selfless charity work and many have witnessed it with their own eyes. In fact, to honor her great work the Vatican is all set to canonise Mother Teresa as a saint. For the uninitiated, the Church isn’t making her a saint, it’s recognizing her as one.
How are saints made?
The process to find a new saint usually begins in the diocese where he or she lived or died; in Mother Teresa’s case, Kolkata.
A postulator – essentially the person spearheading the project- gathers testimony and documentation and presents the case to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. If the congregation’s experts agree the candidate lived a virtuous life, the case is forwarded to the pope, who signs a decree attesting to the candidate’s “heroic virtues.”
If the postulator finds someone was healed after praying for the candidate’s intercession, and if the cure cannot be medically explained, the case is presented to the congregation as the possible miracle needed for beatification, the first major hurdle in the saint-making process.
Panels of doctors, theologians, bishops and cardinals must certify that the cure was instantaneous, complete and lasting- and was due to the intercession of the saintly candidate. If convinced, the congregation sends the case to the pope, who signs a decree saying the candidate can be beatified. A second miracle is needed for the person to be declared a saint.
But why is Mother Teresa is a saint?
Ever since she was 18, she focused on serving the mankind. After years of service as teacher and mentor, Teresa experienced a call within her religious call, which changed her course of life completely, making her what she is known today.
She started off the Missionaries of Charity with mere 13 members which went on to become a significant and recognized congregations in the world. She founded the Charity in 1950. The sisterhood now has 4,500 nuns worldwide.
Mother Teresa also developed an international organization which aimed at helping the underprivileged and the impoverished.
For her commendable service to humanity, Mother Teresa was honored with the Noble Peace Prize in 1979. That’s when her work received worldwide recognition. She then became the icon of peace, love and compassion. Her selfless determination to serve the poor fetched her about 124 prestigious awards, including ‘Padmashree Award’ (in 1962 from the President of India), ‘John F. Kennedy International Award (1971), ‘Bharat Ratna’ , ‘Order of Merit’ from Queen Elizabeth, ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ (1979), The Pope John XXIII Peace Prize’, ‘Medal of Freedom’ (the highest US Civilian award) and many more.
Mother Teresa has had her share of criticism. According to many reports in the past, some people noted a lack of hygiene in the hospitals run by her sisterhood. In fact, some people also said that she accepted money from dictators for her charity work.
In 2002, the Vatican ruled that an Indian woman’s stomach tumour had been miraculously cured after prayers to Mother Teresa.
In 2008, Mother Teresa’s intercession was said to have helped cure Brazilian man Marcilio Haddad Andrino of several brain tumours, according to the Vatican. It was after this miracle got recognized that Pope Francis cleared the way for sainthood last year .
Despite achieving worldwide acclaim for her work in Kolkata slums, her critics accused her pushing a hardline Catholicism, mixing with dictators and accepting funds from them for her charity.
Here are some of the images from the canonisation ceremony:
(With inputs from TOI)