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Joyous scenes as Mother Teresa is now Saint Teresa of Kolkata

The nun was canonised today in front of about 100,000 pilgrims.

Vatican Pope Mother Teresa An estimated 100,000 pilgrims filled St. Peter's Square for today's Mass. Source: Alessandra Tarantino

POPE FRANCIS HAS proclaimed  Mother Teresa of Kolkata a saint, hailing her as the personification of maternal love and a powerful advocate for the poor.

“We may have some difficulty in calling her ‘Saint’ Teresa,” the pontiff said.

“Her holiness is so near to us, so tender and so fruitful that we continue to spontaneously call her Mother.”

He added:

She made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognise their guilt for the crime – the crimes! – of poverty they created.

Vatican Pope Mother Teresa Nuns from the mission Saint Teresa established in Kolkata attended today's Mass. Source: Alessandra Tarantino

The unscripted comments came at a canonisation mass attended by 100,000 pilgrims, including 13 heads of state or government and hundreds of sari-clad nuns from Teresa’s order, the Missionaries of Charity.

Queen Sofia of Spain and some 1,500 homeless people also looked on as Francis described Teresa’s work in the slums of the Indian metropolis as “eloquent witness to God’s closeness to the poorest of the poor.”

To applause, he added: “Mother Teresa loved to say, ‘perhaps I don’t speak their language but I can smile’.

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

Vatican Pope Mother Teresa A Missionaries of Charity nun greets Pope Francis upon his arrival in St. Peter's Square. Source: Alessandra Tarantino

The joyful celebratory atmosphere in the Vatican was mirrored in Kolkata, where candles and flowers were laid on Teresa’s tomb at the headquarters of her order.

“It is a day of rejoicing, a day of gratitude and a day of many, many blessings,” senior sister Mary Lysa said.

Francis also used his sermon to recall Teresa’s fervent opposition to abortion, which she termed “murder by the mother” in a controversial Nobel Peace prize speech in 1979.

She “ceaselessly proclaimed that the unborn are the weakest”, he said.

Pizza for the poor

The ceremony came on the eve of the 19th anniversary of Teresa’s death in Kolkata, where she spent nearly four decades working in wretched slums.

Vatican Pope Mother Teresa There were also celebrating today in India. Source: Alessandra Tarantino/PA Images

With the 16th century basilica of St Peter’s glinting in the late summer sun, Francis led a ritual mass that has barely changed for centuries.

Speaking in Latin, he declared “blessed Teresa of Calcutta (Kolkata) to be a Saint … decreeing that she is to be venerated as such by the whole Church.”

After the mass, the 79-year-old pontiff boarded an open-topped jeep and toured around St Peter’s square and surrounding streets to a rapturous reception from tens of thousands of well-wishers.

Source: euronews (in English)/YouTube

Solangel Rojas had come from Cali in Colombia. Clutching a picture of Teresa to her heart, she said:

It is wonderful that she has been canonised. She was an example to us all.

Among those in the front rows at the mass were 1,500 people from shelters run by the Italian branches of Teresa’s order. Later they were Francis’s guests for a giant pizza lunch served by nuns and priests.

Read: Revered, reviled, misunderstood: Mother Teresa becomes a saint today >

Teresa spent all her adult life in India, first teaching, then tending to the dying poor.

India Mother Teresa An images of Saint Teresa on a postage stamp in Mumbai. Source: Rafiq Maqbool/PA Images

It was in the latter role, at the head of her now worldwide order, that Teresa became one of the most famous women on the planet.

Born to Kosovan Albanian parents in Skopje — then part of the Ottoman empire, now the capital of Macedonia — she won the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize and was revered around the world as a beacon for the Christian values of self-sacrifice and charity.

But she was also regarded with scorn by secular critics who accused her of being more concerned with evangelism than with improving the lot of the poor.

Read: Mother Teresa to become saint after Pope recognises second miracle >

Read: Mother Teresa is being made a saint next year >

 

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