Mother Teresa to be­come Catholic saint

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

ONE of the most iconic fig­ures of the 20th cen­tury, Mother Teresa of Cal­cutta, is set to be­come a Catholic saint on Sun­day in an open-air Mass led by Pope Fran­cis.

Fa­ther Brian Kolodiejchuk, the Cana­dian priest who pro­moted her saint­hood cause, said on Thurs­day in Vat­i­can that hun­dreds of thou­sands of faith­ful are ex­pected to at­tend the canon­i­sa­tion ser­vice to be led by Pope Fran­cis in front of St Peter’s basil­ica.

He said that her canon­i­sa­tion is one of the high­lights of Fran­cis’ Ju­bilee of Mercy. He said, “Af­fec­tion­ately called the “saint of the gut­ters” dur­ing her life­time, Mother Teresa of Cal­cutta will be made an of­fi­cial saint of the Ro­man Catholic Church on Sun­day, just 19 years af­ter her death.

“The Church de­fines saints as those be­lieved to have been holy enough dur­ing their lives to now be in Heaven and able to in­ter­cede with God to per­form mir­a­cles. She has been cred­ited with two mir­a­cles, both in­volv­ing the heal­ing of sick peo­ple.”

Kolodiejchuk said that Mother Teresa was one of the most in­flu­en­tial women in the Church’s 2 000-year his­tory, ac­claimed for her work amongst the worlds poor­est of the poor in the slums of the In­dian city now called Kolkata.

He said crit­ics view her dif­fer­ently, ar­gu­ing she did lit­tle to al­le­vi­ate the pain of the ter­mi­nally ill and noth­ing to stamp out the root causes of poverty.

The priest re­called that in 1991, the Bri­tish med­i­cal jour­nal the Lancet vis­ited a home she ran in Kolkata for the dy­ing and said un­trained car­ers failed to recog­nise when some pa­tients could have been cured.

Kolodiejchuk said her de­trac­tors missed the point of her mis­sion, ar­gu­ing that she had cre­ated a place to com­fort peo­ple in their fi­nal days rather than es­tab­lish hos­pi­tals. “We don’t have to prove that saints were per­fect, be­cause no one is per­fect,” he said.

He said that sev­eral events are planned in the run up to the cer­e­mony, in­clud­ing a prayer vigil to­day, an au­di­ence in St Peter’s Square with Fran­cis on Satur­day morn­ing.

Kolodiejchuk said it would be fol­lowed in the evening by a ven­er­a­tion of Teresa’s relics in a Ro­man basil­ica out­side of the Vat­i­can.

He said, “As the canon­i­sa­tion falls on the eve of Teresa’s feast day, which marks the an­niver­sary of her death on Septem­ber 5, 1997, there are ex­pected to be more cel­e­bra­tions and re­li­gious ser­vices on Mon­day and later on in the week.”

He said that on Septem­ber 7-8, pil­grims would be al­lowed to visit the room Teresa used on vis­its to Rome, in the con­vent of the Church of San Gre­go­rio Magno near the Colos­seum, where her Mis­sion­ar­ies of Char­ity have a lo­cal branch.

Mother Teresa was born Ag­nese Gonxha Bo­jax­hiu of Al­ba­nian par­ents in 1910 in what was then part of the Ot­toman Em­pire and is now Mace­do­nia.

She be­came a nun at 16 and moved to In­dia in 1929, cre­at­ing her mis­sion in 1950 and gained world­wide recog­ni­tion for her work, in­clud­ing a No­bel Peace Prize in 1979.

Pri­vate let­ters pub­lished af­ter her death in 1997 also re­vealed that for the last 50 years of her life she de­spaired over hav­ing lost a per­sonal con­nec­tion with Je­sus, while she con­tin­ued stead­fastly to serve his cause. — AFP

Mother Teresa

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