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Vatican on last step to Mother beatification

Calcutta, Dec. 19: Vatican City is going to take the final step towards Mother Teresa’s beatification — a process that will lead to Mother being conferred the sainthood — in a ceremony to be conducted by Pope John Paul on Friday.

At the conclusion of this ceremony, an announcement will be made by the Vatican on the date and place of Mother’s beatification. Officials at the Vatican indicated that this is likely to be in “the spring next year”.

“We are aware that Calcutta, the city where she spent a major part of her life and did most of her work, is maintaining a keen watch on the proceedings here,” postulator of the Missionaries of Charity Father Brian told The Telegraph over phone from Vatican City on Thursday.

With about 12 hours left for the proceedings to be conducted by Pope John Paul, Father Brian felt it was only fitting that the people of Calcutta — despite being halfway across the globe — should partake of the “serene” ambience of the holy city at least in spirit. The mood at the Vatican, Father Brian said, is one of “joyful expectation”.

The Pope, in a ceremony that is expected to start around 11 am (Vatican time), will be approving “decrees on heroic virtues and miracles” of 18 “servants of God” working across the globe. Mother Teresa is one of them, said Father Brian, and her “heroic virtues” will be recognised for her services to the poorest of the poor. The “miracle” that is going to be approved concerns the “cure” of Monica Bersa’s (of South Dinajpur) tumour following a prayer to Mother Teresa in 1998, a year after she died in September 1997.

A public statement from the Vatican is expected around 1 pm (Vatican time) which would be a little after 5 pm in Calcutta.

After the process of beatification, Mother Teresa will be formally termed “Blessed”. But, a press release issued by the Missionaries of Charity, said: “Mother Teresa will always remain Mother for those who knew her, hence many people will call her Blessed Mother Teresa. But officially, she will be known as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, and later, God willing, as Saint Teresa of Calcutta.”

The process of canonisation, or the conferring of sainthood, started with the Archdiocese of Calcutta, assisted by a postulator from the Vatican, collecting documents and information on the life, virtues and “reputation of sanctity” of Mother Teresa. This was followed by a study of these findings by officials of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (CCS), an office of the Vatican.

Tomorrow, the CCS will present these findings to the Pope which will then be “affirmed” by him. After this Mother Teresa will be called the “Venerable Servant of God”.

Sister Nirmala, who succeeded Mother Teresa as superior-general of the mission the latter founded in 1950, is now in Vatican City. Vatican officials said she would be there till she took her “final vow”.

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