Mother Teresa of Kolkata, the Nobel laureate known for dedicating her life to helping the poorest of the poor, will be made a saint of the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican said yesterday.
Pope Francis has cleared the way for sainthood by approving a decree.
Mother Teresa, who died in 1997 at the age of 87, become an international icon of charity in the 20th century but has also been criticised for trying to convert people to Christianity.
In Kolkata, Sunita Kumar, spokeswoman for Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity religious order said the nuns were “over the moon” when they got the news.
“Her whole life was dedicated to the poor and there was nothing else in her mind than service. Everyone was accepted and there was no obstruction in her work,” she said.
Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Kolkata said the news from Rome was “the best Christmas gift,” adding, “her entire life and work was for the poor. Now it is in a way officially recognised.”
In the years since her death, some critics accused her and the order of having ulterior motives, saying their real aim was to convert people to Christianity.
The order has denied the allegations, saying, for example, that most of those helped in the Kalighat Home for Dying Destitutes in Kolkata were non-Christians with just a few days left to live and noting that conversion is a lengthy process.
The order has also denied allegations of financial mismanagement of the huge sums it received from donors.
Known as the “saint of the gutters”, the diminutive nun is expected to be canonised - formally made a saint - in early September. It was not clear if the ceremony would take place in Rome or if the Pope would travel to India to preside over it.
Mother Teresa was born Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu of Albanian parents in Macedonia in 1910 in what was then part of the Ottoman Empire.
She founded the Missionaries of Charity to help the poor on the streets of Kolkata and the religious order later spread throughout the world. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.
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