VATICAN CITY, ITALY: A tall tapestry depicting Mother Teresa in her traditional blue trimmed sari was displayed over the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica in The Vatican. The portrait was commissioned by the Knights of Columbus and painted by Chas Fagan, an American artist.
As the jubilant crowd of 120,000 people erupted in sustained applause, Pope Francis declared in Latin ”for the honor of the Blessed Trinity we declare and define The Blessed Teresa of Calcutta to be a Saint and we enroll her among the Saints, decreeing that she is to be visualized as such by the whole church.” He added that as people all over the world may struggle to refer to her as Saint Teresa, “with great spontaneity I think we will continue to call her Mother Teresa.”
I was fortunate to witness this historic event at a ceremony held at St. Peter’s square in Vatican City on September 4, 2016, where Pope Francis bestowed the highest honor of the Catholic Church to Mother Teresa, proclaiming her a Saint. Traditionally sainthood is conferred decades, if not centuries after a person’s death but Pope John Paul II granted a special exception in 1999 to speed up the process for Mother Teresa based on her incredible reputation and selfless work.
Suneja at St. Peter’s Square prior to the Canonization ceremony with the Vatican in the background.