City of Joy celebrates Mother’s place in the Canon

A few minutes past 2 p.m. on Sunday, thousands gathered at Mother House here erupted in joy as Pope Francis at the Vatican declared Mother Teresa a saint.

As tears flowed, clapping, loud cheers and sounds of bells filled the air around the three-storey building in the heart of the city. All roads led to the house on 54 A, AJC Bose Road, the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity, which was all decked up for the event.

Hundreds of the Mother’s followers made a beeline for the place and offered prayers, bowing at, and touching, her grave. By afternoon, when the canonisation ceremony started, the tomb was covered with blue and white flowers.

Beside the tomb, a photograph of Mother Teresa with a message, “Saint Teresa of Kolkata, Pray for Us”, attracted visitors. The Vatican ceremony was telecast live on two giant screens. Photographs of Mother Teresa adorned the walls of the room as people sat on benches and on the floor watching the telecast silently.

A huge photo of the saint, similar to the one that hung from the balcony in the Vatican, was put up inside Mother House. The photograph had a halo around her face, something which only a saint can have, a nun said.

Outside Mother House, an event was organised by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. Speaking at the event, Sister Lysa, Assistant General of the Missionaries of Charity, emphasised the inseparable connection between Mother Teresa and Kolkata.

Throughout her life, she worked on AJC Bose Road and at Sealdah, Tiljala and all other neighbouring streets and slums, giving humble love and service to the unwanted, the orphans, the sick, the dying and leprosy patients, she said.

“Mother Teresa said holiness is not a luxury for a few, but a simple duty for you and me … Her path of holiness was very simple within the reach of every ordinary person,” Sister Lysa, said praying to Saint Teresa of Kolkata “to bless all of us”.

People from different parts of the country had come to witness the historic occasion. A number of people from other countries as well, many working as volunteers, were also present at Mother House.

Describing the conferment of sainthood as a great blessing for the whole Church, the whole world and for the whole country and in a special way, for Kolkata, Sister Lysa said, “A saint is one who has deep love and union with God. A saint is one who practises heroic virtues. That was what our Mother was.”

At the Vatican, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee provided a touch of Bengal in the canonisation as she walked around singing popular Bengali devotional songs. The Chief Minister walked all the way, along with members of her delegation, from Rome to St. Peter’s Basilica to participate in the ceremony.

People from different parts of the country and abroad were present at Mother House in Kolkata