On September 4, 2016, Mother Teresa was canonized as Saint Teresa of Calcutta. This comes a day before the 19th anniversary of her death. The canonization mass which was led by Pope Francis was held at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City.
The Early Years
Saint Teresa of Calcutta was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on 26 August 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia, to Albanian heritage. Her family is devoutly Catholic. She clarified the common confusion about her nationality and faith as follows:
“By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”
She left home in September 1928 to be admitted as a postulant at the Loreto Convent in Rathfarnam (Dublin), Ireland. She was given the name Teresa after her patroness, St, Therese of Lisieux. She was sent to Calcutta, India on January 6, 1929 where she joined the Loreto novitiate in Darjeeling. She became known as Mother Teresa when she made her final profession as a Loreto nun on May 24, 1937.
Mother Teresa’s Charity Works
Mother Teresa was said to have received a “call within a call”. Aside from answering the call to become a nun, she shared that she received another call from Jesus Christ. This second call resulted to the formation of the Missionaries of Charity family of Sisters, Brothers, Fathers, and Co-Workers. It eventually became a congregation known as the Missionaries of Charity. Its aim and mission in her own words sums up its reason for being which is “to quench the infinite thirst of Jesus on the cross for love and souls by labouring at the salvation and sanctification of the poorest of the poor.”
The works of the congregation were expanded throughout the globe. Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 in recognition of her work. She continued traveling all over the world to bring her works of charity in spite of failing health.
Mother Teresa returned to Calcutta in July 1997 very weak. She died on September 5, 1997 at the Motherhouse. She was accorded a state funeral on September 13, which was attended by world leaders or their special envoys.
The Road to Sainthood
The first recognized miracle attributed to Mother Teresa involved an Indian woman named Monica Besra, who said she was cured of an abdominal tumor through Mother Teresa’s intercession on the one year anniversary of her death in 1998. This was in the year 2002. Her beatification ceremony as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta was led by Pope John Paul II on October 19, 2003. The publication of her private correspondence which showed among others a letter displaying a sense of despair in relation to her faith made Mother Teresa a figure which ordinary people can relate to.
Pope Francis issued a decree in December 17, 2015 recognizing the second miracle attributed to Mother Teresa. It involved the healing of Marcilio Andrino, a Brazilian man who was diagnosed with a viral brain infection and lapsed into a coma. His wife and family who prayed to Mother Teresa, said that he woke up after an emergency surgery without pain and cured of his symptoms.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta will always be remembered as one of the greatest humanitarians of the 20th century because of her unwavering commitment in aiding those who are most in need.