Mother Teresa of Calcutta is to be officially named a Saint by the Roman Catholic Church on Sunday. Although sainthood is a status associated with holiness, the process is filled with lengthy bureaucratic procedures and extensive amount of money.
There have been some religious leaders who have been vying for her ascension into sainthood for years, and it is finally happening. One of these leaders is the late Pope John Paul with whom Mother Teresa met often, twisted Vatican policy in order to allow for the procedure to establish her case for sainthood to be underway two years after her death rather than five.
The path to sainthood in a nutshell
The process begins with a diocese, who becomes the postulator, believing that someone among their community has lived a saintly life and upon the formal opening of the cause, the person would receive the title of “Servant of God”.
The postulator then sends great documentation to the Vatican, which is assigned to a ‘realtor’ who will oversee the case and in collaboration with theologians, would determine whether or not the person is worthy to proceed. If the person is in fact deemed worthy, they receive the title “venerable” which precedes the next stage: beautification. This particular step is one of the most difficult as it requires the occurrence of a miracle.
After the first miracle is achieved, a second one is needed to be able to move forward on the path to sainthood. In Mother Teresa’s case, her first miracle involved an Indian woman named Monica Bersa whose stomach tumor vanished after she and others prayed to her a year after her death in 1997. Her second concerned a Brazilian man, Marcilio Andrino, who reportedly recovered from a severe brain infection in 2008 after his family turned to Mother Teresa in prayer. Although her first miracle received criticism because some believed it was due to medical treatment and not divine intervention, the Catholic Church chose to recognize the holy act.
Although becoming a saint is a privilege next to divinity, the system of canonization and beatification can incite corruption. One example is the Catholic institution, Opus Dei, which was accused of using its dense finances to quicken the canonization of Father Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, founder of the institution, who was subsequently declared saint in 2002.
Portrait of Mother Teresa in Washington DC
The official portrait that will be used as her canonisation was unveiled at the St. John Paul II National Shrine in the US capital on Thursday, 1 September. The portrait was painted by Chris Fagan and was commissioned by the Knights of Columbus as a gift for the Missionaries Charity, of which Mother Teresa was the founder. The painting will be taken to the Vatican to be placed in front of St, Peter’s Basilica.
Almost a decade after her passing, the beautified Nobel Peace Prize winner will finally have reached sainthood.