Pope Francis has declared Mother Teresa of Calcutta as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church.
Her legacy complements Pope Francis’s vision of a humble church that strives to serve the poor, and the festivities are a highlight of his Holy Year of Mercy, which runs until November 8.
Thousands gathered into St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican to honour the Nobel peace laureate.
Mother Teresa, who worked among the world’s neediest in the slums of Kolkata, is revered as a model of compassion by millions of Catholics. “Everything she did gave an example to the entire world. She showed we can’t all do everything, but little gestures made with so much love are what’s important,” said 17-year-old student Massimiliano D’Aniello, from Grosseto, Italy, who made a musical about Mother Teresa with his friends.
Pope John Paul II, who met her often, had put her on a fast track to canonisation two years after her death instead of the usual five.
The Church defines as saints those believed to have led such holy lives they are now in Heaven and can intercede with God to perform miracles – two of which are needed to confer sainthood. She is credited with healing an Indian tribal woman from stomach cancer in 1998 and a Brazilian man from a brain infection in 2008. Pramod Sharma, a Kolkata resident who grew up near a convent school and childcare centre where Mother Teresa worked, said she had chosen India as her home. “(She) belonged to our India and stayed with the Indians and will forever stay in our hearts,” Sharma said.