After her large scale charity work among the poorest of the poo in India and other nations earned her the affectionate nickname of “The Living Saint” – at least until her death in 1997 – Mother Teresa was finally declared an actual Saint of the Catholic Church by Pope Francis in a mass of canonization in her honor at Vatican City this past Sunday, as told by The Wall Street Journal.
On a bright Sunday morning with a 120,000 strong crowd at Saint Peter’s Square, the Supreme Pontiff pronounced the formalized rite of Canonization, by which a person declared Blessed by the Church after his death and with two church-verified miracles to his name is hereby recognized as a Saint.
To that end Mother Teresa, born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu of Albanian stock in now present-day Macedonia, was named after the major city in India that was the center of her religious charitable order the Missionaries of Charity. The proclamation was greeted with thunderous cheers from those in attendance.
During the homily of the canonization mass commented on the new saint’s love for life including the unborn, and her staunch defense of their rights as manifested in her strong opposition to abortion.
In the same measure, she made her stand against world powers in order to make them face the reality of poverty in their peoples.
Her sainthood was noted as being relatively quick; a year and a half after her death in 1997 PopeJohn Paul II had waived the standard five-year waiting period after the death of a virtuous person before being considered a valid subject of inquiry for the process of canonization, or making of a Saint. After the verification by church officials of a miracle attributed to her, she was beatified as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta by John Paul II in 2003.
Saints are defined by the Catholic Church as Christians of great virtue and faith. These personages, when brought up in inquiry for sainthood and verified by investigation as “heroically virtuous”, are first declared “Venerable”, allowing the faithful to pray to them that they may intercede or forward those prayers to God. If the Venerable was a martyr killed for his faith, or if a miraculous intercession has been verified by the Church, the Pope may beatify them, earning the title “Blessed”.
With the verification of a second miracle (after the one that earned beatification), a Blessed may then be Canonized by the Pope as a Saint.
From humble beginnings with 12 followers in Calcutta (now Kolkata), Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity grew to thousands operating charitable institutions in 136 countries.
At the end of the proclamation of sainthood Pope Francis remarked that people would probably take a long time to get used to calling her Saint Teresa, suggesting that she will continue to be known as Mother Teresa for a long time still.
Photo Credit to theoldblackchurch.blogspot.com