Mother Teresa to Be Canonized; No Official Date Set

Pope Francis, during a Dec. 17 meeting with the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, accepted the miracle attributed to Mother Teresa, the healing of a Brazilian man inexplicably cured of brain abscesses.

Mother Teresa ca. 1994
Mother Teresa ca. 1994 (photo: L’Osservatore Romano)

VATICAN CITY — A miracle allowing for the canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta has officially been approved by the Vatican, after months of anticipation.

No specific date for the event has been given.

Rumors of the canonization have been building for months. However, the Vatican made it official in a Dec. 18 communique, which also recognized the heroic virtue of Father Giuseppe Ambrosoli of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, giving him the title “Venerable.”

Though Pope Francis met with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, mere days ago to advance several causes of canonization, including an American, he met with the cardinal again in a private audience on his birthday, Dec. 17.

In the course of the meeting, the Pope accepted the miracle attributed to Mother Teresa, which has been studied: the healing of a Brazilian man inexplicably cured of brain abscesses.

Although no plans are official, Cardinal Amato previously suggested Sept. 4, 2016 — which is being observed as a jubilee day for workers and volunteers of mercy — as a possible canonization date, since it is close to Sept. 5, the nun’s feast day and the anniversary of her death.

In September, Father Caetano Rizzi, who works in the Vatican's congregation for saints, told CNA that the Pope was interested in canonizing Mother Teresa during the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which runs through Nov. 20, 2016.

In his Dec. 17 meeting with Cardinal Amato, Pope Francis also approved of the heroic virtue of Father Adolfo of the Institute of the Brothers of Christian Schools, as well as that of Father Enrico Hahn.

Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on Aug. 26, 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia. The youngest of three children, she attended a youth group run by a Jesuit priest called Sodality, which eventually opened her to the call of service as a missionary nun.

She joined the Sisters of Loretto at age 17 and was sent to Calcutta, where she taught at a high school. After contracting tuberculosis, she was sent to rest in Darjeeling, and it was on the way that she felt what she called “an order” from God to leave the convent and live among the poor.

The Vatican granted her permission to leave the Sisters of Loretto and to live her new call under the guidance of the archbishop of Calcutta.

After she left her convent, Mother Teresa began working in the slums, teaching poor children and treating the sick in their homes. A year later, some of her former students joined her, and, together, they took in men, women and children who were dying in the gutters along the streets.

In 1950, the Missionaries of Charity were born as a congregation of the Diocese of Calcutta. In 1952, the government granted them a house from which to continue their mission of serving Calcutta's poor and forgotten.

The congregation quickly grew from a single house for the dying and unwanted to nearly 500 houses around the world.

Mother Teresa set up homes for prostitutes and battered women, orphanages for poor children and houses for those suffering from AIDS.

She was a fierce defender of the unborn and is known to have said, “If you hear of some woman who does not want to keep her child and wants to have an abortion, try to persuade her to bring him to me. I will love that child, seeing in him the sign of God's love.”

She died on Sept. 5, 1997, and was beatified just six years later by St. John Paul II on Oct. 19, 2003.