Mother Teresa, revered for her work with the poor and dying in India, was declared a saint by Pope Francis in a ceremony at the Vatican.
Hundreds of thousands of people have gathered in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican to witness the canonisation of Mother Teresa.
The canonisation mass, took place under a huge portrait of the Albanian nun, who established the Missionaries of Charity order in Kolkata in 1950. The order now runs 758 homes, hospices and shelters in 139 countries around the world.
Francis responded: “After due deliberation and frequent prayer for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brother bishops, we declare and define Blessed Teresa of Calcutta to be a saint and we enrol her among the saints, decreeing that she is to be venerated as such by the whole church.”
In the eyes of the church someone can only become a saint if they have two officially verifiable miracles attributed to them after their death.
An individual can only become a saint once they have died, and the process begins at least five years after the death of the candidate. This is to allow grieving to pass and the case to be examined without emotion.
The Roman Catholic Church currently has more than 10,000 saints.
Mother Teresa died in September 1997, at the age of 87 and her canonisation began just two years later. She was officially made a saint exactly 19 years after her death.
During the process, the investigation into someone’s life needs to show that they lived a life sufficient in holiness and virtue to be considered a saint. Between 2001 and 2002, 35,000 pages of documentation were collected to prove the case for Mother Teresa.
Mother Teresa’s first ‘miracle’
In 1997, Monica Besra, a tribal woman in West Bengal was under acute pain due to a tumour that had been diagnosed in her abdomen. Despite visiting many hospitals, her illness was not cured. In May 1998 she was admitted to the home run by the Missionaries of Charity order in Patiram.
A commission from the Vatican judged the woman cured from an abdominal tumour due to a locket containing a picture of the nun which was placed on the patient’s stomach. The pontiff decided it was Mother Teresa’s intervention from heaven.
Besra said a beam of light emerged from the picture and relieved her of a cancerous tumour.
However, Besra’s case has been countered by several doctors who believe that she was cured due to medication. Even her husband claimed that it was medicines that led to her recovery and not a miracle.
This cleared the way for her beatification in 2003.
The second ‘miracle’
Pope Francis gave nod to this ‘miracle’ in 2015, which made her sainthood a formality.
In December 2008, a Brazilian man, Marcilio Haddad Andrino recovered from multiple abscesses in his brain. When he was diagnosed with the abscesses, he and his wife placed a relic of Mother Teresa near his head and prayed to her regularly.
Andrino claimed to have experienced a miracle which led to his eventual cure. He reported to have felt a sense of peace and the headache suddenly disappeared.
When the doctors examined him the following day his abscesses were seen as receding and he was declared to be cured.
A spokesman for the Vatican said: “The Holy Father has authorised the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to proclaim the decree concerning the miracle attributed to the intercession of blessed Mother Teresa.”