The Vatican announced on Tuesday that Pope Francis will declare Mother Teresa of Kolkata a saint on Sept. 4, one day before the 19th anniversary of her death.
Pope Francis issued the decree setting the date of the late missionary’s canonization at a morning meeting with cardinals in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace. The Vatican later confirmed that the pope would perform the ceremony in Rome.
The event will likely prove a highlight of the current Holy Year of Mercy, which the pope inaugurated at the Vatican on Dec. 8 and which will conclude on Nov. 20. In April 2014, the double canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII in St. Peter’s Square drew an estimated 800,000 pilgrims to Rome.
“The definitive date and place of Mother’s canonization fits in very well with the Jubilee Year of Mercy,” said Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of the archdiocese of Calcutta, an alternative name for Kolkata. “After all, she was the icon of mercy, compassion, love and peace,” he said.
“It would have been a privilege to host the canonization in India, but Mother belonged to the whole world and it is only apt that she will be declared a saint in Rome,” Archbishop D’Souza said. The archbishop added that he would be attending the ceremony in September.
The pope cleared the way for Mother Teresa’s canonization last December, after deciding that the 2008 healing of a Brazilian man with a brain infection and kidney disease had been due to her intercession.
The Catholic Church normally requires one “medical” miracle before a deceased Catholic can be declared “blessed,” and another such miracle, occurring after that declaration, before he or she can be canonized and declared a saint.
St. John Paul II beatified Mother Teresa in 2003, after recognizing as miraculous the healing of an Indian woman whose caregivers had prayed to the late missionary.
The Vatican usually waits a minimum of five years after someone’s death before considering beatification, and the process can take centuries. In Mother Teresa’s case, with papal permission, the process began only 18 months after her death.
Mother Teresa was born Anjëzë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu to an ethnic Albanian family in Skopje, in what is today the Republic of Macedonia.
She founded the Missionaries of Charity, a religious order dedicated to care of the “poorest of the poor,” in Kolkata, in 1950. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.