| Italian actress Rosa Lembo (bottom left) plays Mother Teresa in Mother Teresa the Musical in a Rome theatre. (AFP)
Rome, Oct. 14 (Reuters): A clapping chorus line of swaying nuns and a rock-and-roll Mother Teresa took Rome by storm this week in a musical to coincide with her beatification, the last step before sainthood.
The arrival of Mother Teresa the Musical is one of a series of events being held ahead of her beatification by Pope John Paul on October 19, six years after she died.
“I dream, I hope, I pray for you,” the sprightly Teresa character sings to dancing members of the chorus, representing the sick and destitute in the upbeat production.
To a series of reggae, funk and pop tunes, the show focuses on the five decades Mother Teresa spent caring for slum-dwellers in Calcutta — for which she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.
The opening number received a rapturous applause from an audience of school children, teachers and nuns at today’s matinee performance.
The musical has already toured across Italy and will play twice daily in the Italian capital until Sunday’s beatification ceremony when the Pope will declare Mother Teresa a “blessed” — one rank short of being a saint.
“Music is a universal instrument, above all for kids, and each song contains a message,” said the show’s composer Michele Paulicelli, who plays a missionary.
“Mother Teresa is a point of reference for every person and every religion.”
More than 200,000 pilgrims are expected to crowd into the Vatican’s St. Peter’s square for Sunday’s ceremony, which will take place three days after Pope John Paul celebrates the 25th anniversary of his pontificate.
Mother Teresa’s religious order, the Missionaries of Charity, has organised an exhibition about her life to mark the beatification — displaying some of her possessions, including her crucifix, sandals and trademark blue and white sari.
The exhibit in a Rome church also features photographs of her childhood in Skopje, capital of present-day Macedonia, her early years as a nun in Ireland, her work in Calcutta and her funeral in 1997. She died aged 87.
The Vatican Museums, one of the world’s largest collections of art from Egyptian mummies to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes, is also honouring the “Saint of the Gutters”, by extending Saturday’s opening hours and cutting the entry fee.
The proceeds will be donated to Mother Teresa charities.
Nuns from the Missionaries of Charity have already started arriving in Rome ahead of the ceremony, and are doing the rounds of the various Mother Teresa events.
“It’s a great show,” said Sister Maria Rita during the interval.
“Although she does seem very young,” she added with a smile.