Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a nun who dedicated her life to helping the poor, will be made a saint of the Roman Catholic Church at a ceremony on September 4, Pope Francis announced on Tuesday at Vatican City.
Mother Teresa's elevation to sainthood brought cheers in the Mother's House, headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity here, and a big thanksgiving Holy Mass is being planned.
The elevation of Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa, who dedicated most of her life to working with the destitutes and the downtrodden in Kolkata, to sainthood came after the Church recognised a second miracle earlier, the Missionaries of Charity (MOC) said.
"We have now received an official confirmation from Vatican that Pope Franscis has approved Mother's sainthood and set September 4 as the date for her canonisation. We are very excited and happy about it," Missionaries of Charity Spokesperson Sunita Kumar told PTI.
Archbishop Thomas D'Souza said that the canonisation was a formality but an important one.
"This is the last step in the canonisation process wherein the Pope needs the cardinal and signs the decree," D'Souza said.
The MOC and other Christian associations in Kolkata are planning a big thanksgiving Holy Mass on October 2 at the Netaji Indoor Stadium here. It is also having a special mass and prayer to mark the occasion this evening.
Nuns at the MOC said the canonisation in Rome will have a special universal significance because of Mother's popularity.
Sister Prema and Archbishop D'Souza will go to Rome to attend the canonisation.
Archbishop Thomas D'souza said they were planning a big celebration in Kolkata in September to mark the occasion where delegates from different parts of the country will participate.
Besides a religious programme which includes a Holy Mass, there will also be a civil programme where dignitaries will be present.
Mother Teresa, who spent 45 years serving the poor and the sick on the streets of Kolkata, died at the age of 87 in Kolkata in 1997. She founded the Missionaries of Charity. She will now be a Saint of Roman Catholic Church.
She was beatified by then pope John Paul II in a fast-tracked process in 2003, attended by some 300,000 pilgrims. Beatification is the first step towards sainthood.
In 2002, the Vatican recognised a miracle she was said to have carried out after her death, namely the 1998 healing of a Bengali tribal woman, Monika Besra, who was suffering from an abdominal tumour.
The traditional canonisation procedure requires at least two miracles.
"The first miracle was performed in Kolkata many years ago. The second one was performed in Brazil, where a person was healed miraculously as a result of her earlier prayers," Kumar said, adding such miracles were known to happen even after the death of a saint.
Kumar, who worked closely with the Mother, said the late nun was an extraordinary woman who believed that hard work was the best way to serve God.
Mother Teresa was born Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu to Albanian parents in Macedonia in 1910 in what was then part of the Ottoman Empire. After having lived in Macedonia for some 18 years, she moved to Ireland and then to India, where she lived for most of her life.
She was granted Indian citizenship in 1951 and received a state funeral after her death. PTI