BLESSED MOTHER TERESA, ON THE PATH TO SAINTHOOD
The Vatican announced Monday that Pope Francis will hold an ordinary public consistory of cardinals on March 15, at which time he will sign the decree for the canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata (Calcutta) and four others. It is expected that the date of the canonization(s) will be announced next Tuesday as well.
I had learned that the bishops of India had asked Pope Francis to bring the canonization ceremony to Calcutta. It seems they wanted to honor both the new saint and her worldwide missionary order, in addition to having a papal visit for this subcontinent’s Catholics. Upon learning of the murders of four of the Misionary of Charity sisters in Yemen, I even wondered if the Pope would indeed bend the rules a bit and canonize Blessed Teresa in the city she so loved, instead of in Rome.
It seems the bishops of India will be disappointed, and that the canonization ceremony is planned for Sunday, September 4 in Rome, a date that had been speculated on for some time. Blessed Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997, at the age of 87, so this is the closest possible Sunday date for a canonization.
The practice for centuries was to have beatifications take place in the home diocese of the new Blessed, which meant that veneration of that person would take nplace on a “local” level. Canonizations were to take place in Rome because that ceremony now meant that the individual(s) canonize could be venerated at the level of the Universal Church.
St. John Paul bent these rules a bit and decided he wanted to do beatifications in Rome, as well as canonization ceremonies. This was frowned on by some but the saintly pontiff did it his way. Benedict XVI returned to the centuries-old tradition of appointing someone – usually the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints – to represent him at a beatification ceremony in the new Blessed’s diocese, but he, Benedict, preside at canonizations in Rome.
The Vatican announcement noted that Pope Francis had officially cleared Blessed Mother Teresa for sainthood on December 17, 2015, recognizing the miraculous healing through her intercession of a Brazilian man with multiple brain abscesses. Mother Teresa was beatified – declared Blessed – in Rome on October 19, 2003, after Pope St. John Paul II recognized the miraculous healing of an Indian woman with a tumor in her abdomen.
Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu of Albanian parents on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, in what is Macedonia today, Mother Teresa died in Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, on September 5, 1997. Affectionately known as the “saint of the gutter” for her unconditional love for the poor, abandoned and the marginalized, she earned several international honors, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.