Mother Teresa a step closer to sainthood
Posted 10/16/2003 8:37 AM
By Eric J. Lyman, Special for USA TODAY
ROME — Mother Teresa, the diminutive helper of the poor and Nobel laureate who likely will
become a saint faster than anyone, will be among the Blessed on Sunday.
That's when Pope John Paul II will beatify the selfless nun, who died in 1997. The move puts her
just one proven miracle shy of being eligible for sainthood.
Beatification means that Mother Teresa can officially be referred to with the title Blessed,
signifying the church's recognition of her holiness. Statues and likenesses of her can be placed
The event has huge significance for members of Mother Teresa's order, the Missionaries of
Charity, who have set up a yellow tent city for visiting nuns.
"With this sense of community here, we can feel that Mother Teresa is still with us," says Sister
Helena Quispe, 43, who traveled from Ecuador. "Her spirit will remain with those who love her
Mother Teresa is just as beloved among the general Catholic population. Among the thousands of pilgrims in Rome for the pope's
jubilee are many who consider the Mass for Mother Teresa of equal importance with the anniversary itself.
"Mother Teresa was so alive and so full of love for so many people," says Barbara Warner, 66, who came to Rome as part of the
pilgrimage led by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. "If we can bring some of that home with us, we'll all be better off."
It is Mother Teresa's popularity and her strong relationship with Pope John Paul that are contributing to her dramatic and rapid
advances toward sainthood, a process that often takes centuries — not years.
In 1999, the pope announced that the traditional five-year waiting period for the start of the beatification process had been waived for
her. Since then, research into Mother Teresa's life verified at least one miracle attributed to her intervention. A second must be proven
before she can be named a saint, a step that that Vatican experts say could happen by 2010.
"I cannot think of Mother Teresa without feeling goose bumps," says Mercedes Araque, 55, an aid worker who met Mother Teresa
three times in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
"I am small, but she was even smaller, and yet she had the stature of a giant."
Copyright 2003 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
This article originally appeared in
Mother Teresa smiling as she chats
with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican
in this May 1997 file photo. AFP