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Pope Francis Just Declared Mother Teresa A Saint

Best known for her work with the poor in Kolkata, India, Mother Teresa died in 1997.

Posted on September 4, 2016, at 7:33 a.m. ET

Pope Francis has declared Mother Teresa a saint in a ceremony in St Peter's Square, watched by thousands of pilgrims who had flocked to the Vatican.

Stefano Rellandini / Reuters

More than 1,500 homeless people, transported by bus to Rome from across Italy, were given seats of honor at the ceremony. Afterwards they were given a meal of pizza, served by nuns from Mother Teresa’s order.

Stefano Rellandini / Reuters

Cardinal Angelo Amato told the crowds about Mother Teresa’s life, and asked Pope Francis to canonize her in the name of the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis leads the canonization of Mother Teresa.
Vincenzo Pinto / AFP / Getty Images

Pope Francis leads the canonization of Mother Teresa.

"After due deliberation and frequent prayer for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brother bishops, we declare and define Blessed Teresa of Kolkata to be a saint and we enrol her among the saints, decreeing that she is to be venerated as such by the whole church," the pope said in Latin.

Afterwards he deviated from his prepared remarks and acknowledged people might find it hard to call her “Saint Teresa” and would instead “spontaneously” refer to her as Mother Teresa.

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Let us imitate Mother Teresa who made works of mercy the guide of her life and the path towards holiness.

Mother Teresa was born in what is now known as Macedonia to Albanian parents and died in 1997 aged 87.

Mother Teresa in 1960.
Keystone Features / Getty Images

Mother Teresa in 1960.

She founded the sisterhood Missionaries of Charity, which ran 19 homes in Kolkata, India, and won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in 1979.

Catholic nuns from the Missionaries of Charity order gather in 2006.
Parth Sanyal / Reuters

Catholic nuns from the Missionaries of Charity order gather in 2006.

But she was not without critics. In 2003 there were accusations that her homes were poorly run and unhygienic, and in 2008 a former volunteer at one of the homes said the institution was against modernization.

Mother Teresa in 1995.
Str / AFP / Getty Images

Mother Teresa in 1995.

Although it usually takes decades, if not centuries, for a person to achieve sainthood. Mother Teresa’s – which came just 19 years after her death – was hastened by former Pope John Paul II.

In 2002 the Vatican recognised her first miracle when a woman’s stomach cancer was “cured” after prayers to her. Mother Teresa was beatified, one of the first steps to canonization, in 2003. Pope Francis declared a last year she had performed another posthumous miracle, fulfilling the final requirement to her sainthood.

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