VATICAN CITY, March 15: Pope Francis today formally approved sainthood for Mother Teresa and set September 4 as the date for her canonisation.
The Church defines saints as those believed to have been holy enough during their lives to now be in Heaven and can intercede with God to perform miracles.
The move comes 19 years after the death of the Nobel peace laureate who dedicated most of her adult life to working with the poorest of the poor.
Pope Francis, who has made concern for the poor a major plank of his papacy, was known to be keen to make Mother Teresa a saint during the Church’s current Holy Year. He had cleared the way in December last for sainthood for the missiory nun, who died on September 5, 1997, aged 87.
There was no immediate word from the Vatican on the location of the canonisation ceremony, which is expected to take place in Rome with a thanksgiving ceremony held at a later date in Kolkata where Mother Teresa is buried.
Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu of Albanian parents in 1910 in what was then part of the Ottoman Empire and is now Macedonia, Teresa founded the Missiories of Charity with about a dozen nuns in the 1950s to help the destitute on the streets of Kolkata.
A revered figure worldwide, Mother Teresa won the 1979 Nobel peace prize for her work with the poor.
Her religious order has continued to spread throughout the world.
She was beatified just six years after her death by Pope John Paul II on October 19, 2003,following a fast-track process involving the recognition of a claim she had posthumously inspired the 1998 healing of a critically-ill Bengali tribal woman.
More than 3,00,000 pilgrims went to Rome in 2003 for Mother Teresa’s beatification — the first step towards sainthood.
Last year she was credited by Vatican experts with inspiring the 2008 recovery of a Brazilian man suffering from multiple brain tumours, thus meeting the Church’s standard requirement for sainthood of having been involved in two certifiable miracles.
Mother Teresa’s elevation to sainthood on Tuesday brought cheers in the Mother’s House, headquarters of the Missiories of Charity in Kolkata, and a big thanksgiving Holy Mass is being planned. (Agencies)