Vatican Prepares for Mother Teresa’s Canonization
A musical about the saint-to-be and a ‘family feast’ for the poor are among the ways the event will be commemorated.
Masses, prayer vigils, exhibitions and even a musical will be some of the many events taking place in Rome to celebrate the canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa on Sept. 4.
Not only will Pope Francis be raising Mother Teresa to the altars at a canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Sept. 4, the entire week — Sept. 1-8 — will be devoted to celebrating the Albanian religious sister who became known as the “angel of the slums.”
The events begin on Sept. 1, with the opening of an “Exposition of the Life, Spirit and Message of Mother Teresa” at the LUMSA university in Rome. The exposition will last until Sept. 7.
On the evening of Sept. 1, the Missionaries of Charity will provide a “family feast” for the poor under their care at the Santa Cecilia auditorium on the Via della Conciliazione. Part of the evening’s highlights: Mother Teresa: The Musical by the Italian musician, author, singer and actor Michele Paulicelli.
Three consecutive Masses to honor Mother Teresa are scheduled for the following day in three languages — English, Spanish and Italian — at the Basilica of St. Anastasia, close to the Missionaries of Charity motherhouse and Rome’s Circus Maximus, with veneration of the relics of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata after each Mass.
Mercy is a major theme of the canonization, and the sacrament of reconciliation will be available during the Masses. In the afternoon, pilgrims are free to pass through the holy doors of the basilica or see an exhibition celebrating Mother Teresa’s life.
A prayer vigil with solemn adoration will take place in the evening at St. John Lateran Basilica, led by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the vicar of Rome. The theme is “Radiating the Light of Christ: A Call to Holiness,” praying for “holy families, holy consecrated men and women and, especially, for holy priests, ministers of mercy.” The faithful will also given the opportunity to go to confession during adoration.
“Holiness is not the luxury of the few,” Mother Teresa once said. “It is a simple duty for each one of us.” She also called on priests to “make Jesus present and alive in the Eucharist,” or the world “cannot live, and neither we nor our families can grow into holiness.”
Sept. 3 will begin with a special papal audience in St. Peter’s Square, with Pope Francis delivering a catechesis for the jubilee for workers and volunteers of mercy. In the afternoon, a prayer and meditation in music is scheduled to honor Blessed Teresa at the Basilica of Sant’Andrea della Valle in the center of Rome, with veneration of relics and Mass at 7pm.
The canonization Mass on Sept. 4 will begin at 10am, followed by the Angelus at noon. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims are expected, probably exceeding the 300,000 who attended Blessed Teresa’s beatification in 2003. Many bishops from both India and Albania, where Mother Teresa was born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu in 1910, are also expected to attend, as well as state leaders.
As usual after a canonization, a Mass of thanksgiving will be held. For the newly canonized St. Teresa, a Mass will be celebrated by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, in St. Peter’s Square, beginning at 10am. In the afternoon, her relics will again be venerated, at the Basilica of St. John Lateran from 4pm to 6:30pm, and then again from 7am until 6:30pm on Sept. 6.
The relics will move to the Church of San Gregorio Magno, where they will be venerated from 9am until 6:30pm. There is also the possibility of visiting Mother Teresa’s room at the convent in San Gregorio.
An official logo is accompanying the canonization, designed by Mumbai graphic designer Karen Vaswani. The blue-and-gold image bears the typical pose of Mother Teresa, gazing lovingly at a child she is carrying in her arms. The words on the logo read: “Mother Teresa: Carrier of God’s Tender and Merciful Love.”
Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, postulator of Mother Teresa’s cause for canonization, told the Register Aug. 23 that his office is focused on making sure everything runs according to plan.
He said, “I was just talking to one of our priests yesterday from Mexico who said many people are very excited about the upcoming events.”
More details on the canonization, including this prayer to mark the historic event, can be found at MotherTeresa.org:
Lord Jesus, merciful face of the Father, you came to give us the Good News of the Father’s mercy and tenderness.
We thank you for the gift of our dearest Mother, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who will be canonized in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. You chose her to be your presence, your love and compassion to the brokenhearted, the unwanted, the abandoned and the dying. She responded wholeheartedly to your cry, “I Thirst,” by the holiness of her life and humble works of love to the poorest of the poor.
We pray, through her intercession, for the grace to experience your merciful love and share it in our own families, communities and with all our suffering brothers and sisters. Help us to give our “hearts to love and hands to serve,” after the example of Mother Teresa. Lord Jesus, bless every member of our family, our parish, our diocese, our country, especially those most in need, that we all may be transformed by your merciful love.
Edward Pentin is the Register’s Rome correspondent.