Mother Teresa, the nun whose work with the dying and destitute of Kolkata made her a global icon of Christian charity, was made a saint on Sunday.
“For the honour of the Blessed Trinity… we declare and define Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (Kolkata) to be a Saint and we enroll her among the Saints, decreeing that she is to be venerated as such by the whole Church,” the pontiff said in Latin.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta – the city where she dedicated her life to her work and set up the Missionaries of Charities – became the fourth Indian to be made saint.
The relics of Saint Teresa of Calcutta being presented at the canonisation ceremony in St Peter’s Square, Vatican City. (Source: Indian Express)
Those who received the honour before her include Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara, Sister Euphrasia and Sister Alphonsa. Saint Gonsalo Garcia, though of Portuguese parentage, was born in India, and is considered an India born saint.
Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara, Canonized on November, 2014
Kuriakose (Cyriac) Chavara was born in 1805 to Catholic parents of Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala. He was ordained priest in 1829. The process for his beatification was inaugurated by the Archbishop of Changanassery on 3 January 1958. On 8 February 1986, during his visit to Kottayam, Kerala, Pope John Paul II raised Venerable Kuriakose Elias Chavara to the honours of the altar declaring him ‘Blessed’. He was canonized as a Saint on November 23, 2014 by Pope Francis.
The two miracles that raised Chavara to sainthood include the cure of Joseph Mathew Pennaparambil who was born with club-feet and the cure of Maria Jose Kottarathil’s squint eye.
Mother Euphrasia, canonized on November 2014
Born in October 1877 at Arnattukara in Thrissur, Kerala, she was popularly known as Evuprasiamma. Euphrasia was more meditatively inclined, and chose to live in the confines of a convent in Thrissur helping people through prayers and wise counsel. She died in 1952.
She was declared Servant of God in 1987 and beatified in 2006 after the approval of a miracle attributed through her intercession by the Vatican panel set up to consider her case for Sainthood.
She is known for the cure of Thomas Tharakan’s bone cancer. A day before surgery, scans showed that Tharakan’s tumour had simply vanished.
Sister Alphonsa, canonized on October 2008
The Catholic nun was born in Kottayam in Kerala, to Joseph and Mary in 1910. She took the veil in 1928, naming herself in honour of St Alphonsus Ligouri. From 1930 till the end of her life, Sister Alphonsa struggled with many health issues.
In 1936, it is said that she was cured of some of her ailments through Kuriakose Elias Chavara (yet to be made saint at the time). However, she finally died from liver issues in 1946 in Bharnanganam, near Kottayam.
Almost immediately after her death, claims of miracles began circulating. These often involved the children from the school she had taught at. Most were claims of medical cures, and in many cases, the straightening of clubbed feet.
In 1953, Cardinal Tisserant initiated the process for her beatification.
Four decades after her death, Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1986. On June 1, 2007, Pope Benedict cleared Sister Alphonsa’s name for canonization, and eventually named her saint on October 12, 2008. Sister Alphonsa became the second India born and the first Indian woman to be canonized.