Agnes Gonxh Bojaxhiu, known worldwide as Mother Teresa, and respected for her work with the poor in India, was today proclaimed a saint by Pope Francis in a ceremony at the Vatican. The event was witnessed by thousands of pilgrims who defied the unfriendly weather to be at St Peter’s square.
Speaking at the ceremony, Pope Francis said, St Teresa had defended the unborn, sick and abandoned, and had shamed world leaders for the “crimes of poverty they themselves created”.
Mother Theresa died in 1997 and two miraculous cures of the sick attributed to her intercession paved way to her being crowned a saint.
After a brief biography of Mother Teresa’s work was read by Cardinal Angelo Amato , the Pope was asked to canonise her in the name of the Church.
Pope Francis responded: “We declare and define Blessed Teresa of Calcutta to be a saint and we enrol her among the saints, decreeing that she is to be venerated as such by the whole Church.”
Pope Francis said Mother Teresa spent her entire life “bowing down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity”.
He concluded by saying: “She made her voice heard before the powers of the world, so that they might recognise their guilt for the crimes of poverty they themselves created.” He then repeated: “The crimes of poverty they themselves created.”
Mother Teresa was born in 1910 to ethnic Albanian parents, she grew up in what is now the Macedonian capital, Skopje, which was then part of the Ottoman Empire.
She joined the Irish order of Loreto at the age of 19 and in 1929 was sent to India, where she taught at a school in Darjeeling under the name of Therese.
In 1946, she relocated to Kolkata to help the destitute and, ten years later, set up a hospice and a home for abandoned children.
The Missionaries of Charity was established by her in 1950. The sisterhood established by her has 4,500 nuns spread across the world.