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Pope declares Mother Teresa a saint

September 4, 2016

Pope Francis has declared Mother Teresa a saint. Known as the "saint of the gutters," she devoted her life to the poor and homeless in Kolkata.

Indien Mutter Teresa mit einem armlosen Baby in Kalkutta
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/E. Adams

Pope Francis declared Mother Teresa a Catholic saint at a Mass on Sunday at the Vatican attended by some 100,000 people.

"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 (Kolkata) to be a saint and we enroll her among the saints, decreeing that she is to be venerated as such by the whole church."

Throngs of pilgrims gathered in the early hours of the morning to view the canonization, a centerpiece of the pope's Jubilee Year of Mercy.

For Pope Francis, who himself has been devoted to the poor, Mother Teresa upheld Church ideals in her life by caring for those suffering both material and spiritual poverty in the slums of Kolkata.

"She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity," Francis said in his homily.

"Let us carry her smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along our journey, especially those who suffer."

Vatikanstaat Heiligsprechung Mutter Teresa durch Papst Franziskus
Image: Reuters/S. Rellandini

Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia, Mother Teresa was of ethnic Albanian descent. She arrived in India in 1929 as a sister of the Loreto order. By 1946, she said God had called upon her to care for the poorest of the poor.

She founded a new order in 1950, the Missionaries of Charity, which has since grown into a global order of nuns. During her life, she helped tens of thousands of destitute and homeless in Kolkata.

"I was fortunate to meet Mother. She was a living saint and an inspiration to me," Kolkata local Konica Cecilia, 32, said, as she placed a candle on the beloved nun's tomb.

Timeline Mother Teresa - Timeline on her life Englisch

Mother Teresa's work won her a Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. After her death in 1997, Pope John Paul II moved to fast-track her sainthood.

To become a saint, the Church must believe someone to have lived such holy lives that they can perform miracles with the help of God. Sainthood is usually granted after the Vatican confirms at least two miracles.

Mother Teresa was credited for curing an Indian woman suffering from stomach cancer in 1998 and healing a Brazilian man's brain tumors in 2008.

Mother Teresa's sainthood is also being celebrated in Kolkata and her native Macedonia.

cw,nm/sms (AP, dpa, Reuters)