Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa is getting closer to officially being a Saint. The Vatican has set the ball rolling with the recognizing of a miracle attributed to Mother Teresa that supposedly involved the curing of a Brazilian man who had a number of brain tumors.
As the story goes, the family prayed to Mother Teresa and the man was healed. The doctors were at a loss as to explain how his health improved, according to the Indian Express. A panel of experts called the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, made up of cardinals and bishops, came together to review the reports of the incident and determined that what happened was indeed a miracle.
According to Time magazine, Mother Teresa was first beatified by Pope John Paul II for performing her first miracle, which is said to have taken place in 1998 when a woman named Monika Besra prayed to Mother Teresa and was supposedly cured of a tumor in her abdomen via a beam of light (a claim that has raised eyebrows and doubt).
In order to become a Saint, a person must have two miracles attributed to them, and they must have lived a holy and virtuous life, according to Religion News. This second miracle for Mother Teresa, who died at the age of 87 in 1997, allows Pope Francis to bestow her with Sainthood.
Ironically, recognition of the miracle will allow Mother Teresa to become a Saint during the Pope’s “Jubilee Year of Mercy.” The ceremony is expected to take place in Rome on September 4, 2016, according to the Guardian. So far, the Vatican has been tight-lipped about the news.
Mother Teresa, according to the Indian Times, was born in 1910 as Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu. Her parents were Albanian, but they lived in Macedonia at the time of her birth, which was then part of the Ottoman Empire.
Mother Teresa became most well-known as the founder of the Missionaries of Charity group in Calcutta, which led her to win the Nobel Peace prize for 1979.
For many Christians, and especially Catholics, Mother Teresa is a much-admired figure, being seen as someone who selfishly devoted her life to the poor in Calcutta, India, and to God.
Each person you meet is Jesus in disguise. -Mother Teresa
— Bible Time (@Bible_Time) December 18, 2015
However, Mother Teresa is not without controversy or critics, both within India and in the international community. The Washington Post quotes Mohan Bhagwat of a Hindu Nationalist group in India who was angered at how Mother Teresa converted those around her.
“It’s good to work for a cause with selfless intentions. But Mother Teresa’s work had ulterior motive, which was to convert the person who was being served to Christianity. In the name of service, religious conversions were made. This was followed by other institutes, too.”
One staunch and vocal critic of Mother Teresa, along with the Catholic Church’s relationship with her, was famed atheist Christopher Hitchens. In an article on Slate in 2003, Hitchens outlined why he felt Mother Teresa was more of a fraud than a saint.
“[Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction. And she was a friend to the worst of the rich, taking misappropriated money from the atrocious Duvalier family in Haiti… and Charles Keating of the Lincoln Savings and Loan. Where did that money, and all the other donations, go? The primitive hospice in Calcutta was as run down when she died as it always had been—she preferred California clinics when she got sick herself—and her order always refused to publish any audit.”
Despite criticism, however, the “Saint of the Gutters” still has legions of admirers and a legacy that has inspired Catholics around the world. For many of them, Mother Teresa being given sainthood will be most welcome.
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