India: “Mother Teresa was the best missionary of the millennium”

Bishop Salvadore Lobo of Baruipur described the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who will be canonised by Pope Francis on 4 September, as the “best missionary of the millennium”. Lobo, who headed the canonisation committee, reported that Christ had said to Mother Teresa in a vision, “Go into the houses, I cannot go alone, you be my face.” Indeed, “for the world today she has become the face of Christ”.

Bishop Lobo said that Hindus as well are convinced that she was a saint, “Some Hindus wonder why the church needs to go through a canonisation process. They say, ‘Mother Teresa was a saint anyway. But if the church needs these formalities, then so be it.’” The Hindus also understand “service to the poor as being service to God”. The bishop reported that during the beatification process as well, a large number of witnesses had come forth that were Hindus, Muslims or Parsees. He described the canonisation as “a great joy” for all of India.

Bishop Lobo, who had already met Mother Teresa as a young seminarian and had at that point decided to wash the dying at her “Kalighat” hospice in Calcutta as a volunteer, described his first impression of her as that of a “transformative saint” who “emanated the personification of Christ”. “She taught the world a lesson: Jesus lives in the hearts of the poor. We shall find His face in them.”

Mother Teresa was born Anjezë (Agnes) Gonxha Bojaxhiu on 26 August 1910 in Skopje (at the time part of the Ottoman Empire, today Macedonia). Her family was Albanian. At the age of 18, she entered the Order of the Loreto Sisters. Soon thereafter she was sent to India, where she worked as a teacher until she felt the calling to serve the poor in 1946. At first she went alone into the slums of Calcutta, but was then joined by several former students. She founded the order of the “Missionaries of Charity”, which continues to take care of the poorest of the poor all over the world today.

Mother Teresa was already considered a saint during her lifetime and became famous the world over as the “Angel of the Poor”. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. She died on 5 September 1997 in Calcutta (India). Pope John Paul II beatified her on 19 October 2003, only six years after her death. She will be canonised in Rome on 4 September 2016. Her liturgical feast day is on 5 September.

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