By Cindy Wooden | Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis will declare Blessed Teresa of Kolkata a saint at the Vatican Sept. 4.
The date was announced March 15 during an “ordinary public consistory,” a meeting of the pope, cardinals and promoters of sainthood causes that formally ends the sainthood process.
At the same consistory, the pope set June 5 as the date for the canonizations of Blessed Stanislaus Papczynski of Poland, founder of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, and Blessed Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad of Sweden, who re-founded the Bridgettine sisters.
In addition, Pope Francis declared that Oct. 16 he would celebrate Mass for the canonizations of Argentina’s “gaucho priest,” Blessed Jose Brochero, and Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio, a 14-year-old Mexican boy martyred for refusing to renounce his faith during the Cristero War of the 1920s.
Setting the dates concludes a long process of studying the lives and writings of the sainthood candidates.
Mother Teresa was widely known as a living saint as she ministered to the sick and the dying in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the world. Although some people criticized her for not also challenging the injustices that kept so many people so poor and abandoned, her simple service touched the hearts of millions of people of all faiths.
Born to an ethnic Albanian family in Skopje, in what is now part of Macedonia, she went to India in 1929 as a Sister of Loreto and became an Indian citizen in 1947. She founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950.
Shortly after she died in 1997, St. John Paul II waived the usual five-year waiting period and allowed the opening of the process to declare her sainthood. She was beatified in 2003.
After her beatification, Missionary of Charity Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, the postulator of her sainthood cause, published a book of her letters, “Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light.” The letters illustrated how, for decades, she experienced what is described as a “dark night of the soul” in Christian spirituality; she felt that God had abandoned her. While the letters shocked some people, others saw them as proof of her steadfast faith in God, which was not based on feelings or signs that he was with her.
The date chosen for her canonization is the eve of the 19th anniversary of her death and the date previously established at the Vatican for the conclusion of the Year of Mercy pilgrimage of people like her who are engaged in works of mercy.