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Mother Teresa is Now Saint Teresa of Kolkata
Sep 05, 2016

Pope Francis has declared Mother Teresa of Calcutta, known as the ‘saint of the gutters’ during her life, a saint, just 19 years after her death on August 4. Pope Francis praised Mother Teresa as the merciful saint who defended the lives of the unborn, sick and abandoned, and who shamed world leaders for the "crimes of poverty they themselves created.

  • Pilgrims streamed into the St Peter's Basilica square from early morning ahead of a service to honour the nun and Nobel peace laureate, who worked among the world's poorest in the slums of the Indian city now known as Kolkata.
  • Apart from special Sunday Mass across various churches in India, a commemorative postage stamp of Mother Teresa was also released in Mumbai to celebrate the canonisation of Mother Teresa in Rome.

The Process of becoming a Saint

Being named a saint in the Catholic Church involves a 4-step process, beginning with a formal request to the local bishop by the candidate's church or someone from the religious community.

1. The Request: The usual custom is to initiate the process five years after the candidate's death. But in Mother Teresa's case, barely 2 years after her death in 1997, the then Archbishop of Calcutta, Monsignor Henry D'Souza, requested Pope John Paul II to begin the process of her beatification and canonization. Accordingly, Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, one of the Missionaries of Charity Fathers, was appointed postulator for her case.

2. The Determination: a formal report and request is sent to Rome where it is reviewed by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. The candidate's writings and other aspects of his or her life are studied to make sure there is nothing that goes against the teachings and practices of the Church.

3.  Beatification: For Beatification, it has to be established that the candidate, by his/her intercession, had brought about a miracle. Between 2001 and 2002, thirty-five thousand pages of documentation on Mother Teresa's life and work were collected. This, plus the approval in December 2002 of Monika Besra's miraculous cancer cure, led to Mother Teresa's beatification at St. Peter Square on October 19, 2003.

4. Canonisation: Canoniozation, the last of the 4-step process requires another miracle conclusively attributed to the person. On 17 December 2015, the Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis recognised a second miracle attributed to the Mother involving the healing of a Brazilian man with multiple brain tumours, thus clearing the decks for her Canonization.

Five Other Indian Saints from Catholic Church

1. Saint Gonsalo Garcia: Born in what is current-day Vasai near Mumbai, Gonsalo Garcia was a preacher under Portuguese rule in India. He died in Japan at the age of 40, and is considered the first Indian to be canonised by the Roman Catholic Church. It was Pope Pius IX who made him a saint in 1862 for a series of miracles on the hill in Nagasaki where he was killed.

2. Saint Joseph Vaz: Born in modern-day Goa under Portuguese rule on April 21, 1651, Joseph Vaz was a missionary in Sri Lanka. It was there that he was canonised as recently as in 2015 by none other than Pope Francis, despite having formed a single miracle. The usual requirement for sainthood or canonisation is two miracles, but there have been exceptions, and St Joseph Vaz was one of them.

3. Saint Alphonsa Anna Muttathupadathum, born in 1910 near Kottayam in Karala, was baptised with the name Alphonsamma. She is said to have cured hundreds of people in a miraculous manner, many of them involving deformities of the feet. She herself had deformed feet. The miracles continued well after her death in 1946, with people preaying to her and being cured. She was finally canonised in 1986 by Pope Benedict XVI. The Reserve Bank of India released a special commemorative coin on her birth centenary in 2010.

4. Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara: Born in what is now the Alappuzha district in Kerala in 1805, Kuriakose Elias Chavara was part of a line of Christians who had converted by Jesus Christ's apostle St Thomas in the first century itself. The aforementioned Saint Alphonsa, then Sister Alphonsa, had herself said Saint Kuriakose appeared to her in her dreams and alleviated her pain. He was canonised by Pope Francis in 2014.

5. Saint Euphrasia Eluvathingal: Rosa Eluvathingal was born in the Thrissur district of Kerala in 1877. The two most recognised of her miracles were curing two supposedly incurable ailments—bone cancer in a carpenter and a throat tumour in a seven-year-old boy. She was canonised along with Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara by Pope Francis in 2014.


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