Mother Teresa, the revered nun whose work with the destitute and needy made her an icon of modern Christianity, will be declared a saint on Sunday. The elevation of the Nobel Peace Prize winner to Catholicism’s celestial pantheon comes on the eve of the 19th anniversary of her death in the Kolkata slums with which she is synonymous.
Her canonisation surprisingly has been completed in unusually faster time due to the extraordinary popularity she enjoyed during her lifetime and a base of influential supporters.
The first rule to become a saint is to have two officially approved miracles attributed to the candidate after their death.
Which were the two miracles that made Mother Teresa a saint?
The 1st Miracle
The first miracle happened in way back 2003. A Bengali farmer’s wife from Harirampur in South Dinajpur district, Monica Besra, claimed that she was cured after a locket having the picture of Teresa was placed on the her stomach.
Monica’s story is well-chronicled. She had been suffering from a tumour in her abdomen about 20 years ago and was in pain but the long medication process and visits to many doctors did not help. Her sister one day took her to the Missionaries of Charity centre near the village. On September 4, 1998, a day before Mother Teresa’s first death anniversary, she went to the church to pray.
“There was a photograph of Mother Teresa there. When I entered the Church a blinding light from Mother’s photo enveloped me. I didn’t know what was happening and returned to my bed at the center as I was too ill,” said Monica.
She recalled that in the night one of the Sisters brought a medallion of the Mother and tied it on her abdomen after saying a prayer. “At about 1 am I woke up and saw that my stomach was flat and the tumor was gone. There was no pain. I was so surprised that I woke up the woman in the next bed and told her what had happened. In the morning I told the Sisters,” said Monica. She was taken to the doctor after that and he confirmed that the tumor was cured.
The late pope John Paul II declared it as an authentic ‘miracle’ five years after Mother Teresa’s death.
However, Besra’s story is also associated with controversies as one of the doctors who was treating Monica, Ranjan Mustafi, said that the healing was a result of his treatment.
When Marcilio Andrino was afflicted by brain abscesses and hydrocephalus from which doctors feared he would not recover in 2008, the couple prayed to Mother Teresa.
He said his condition deteriorated to the point that he struggled to walk down the aisle at his wedding in September 2008 and by early December he was unconscious in hospital. He eventually slipped into coma.
Andrino was scheduled for brain surgery, but when he suddenly awoke shortly before the allocated surgery time without the headache that had been tormenting him, the doctor told him the intervention would not be necessary.
“I was able to spend Christmas with my family and six months later I went back to work with no problems,” Andrino said, adding that he and Fernanda later surprised the medics by having two children.