Mother Teresa to be canonized Sept. 4; pope sets other sainthood dates

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jayanta Shaw, Reuters

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis will declare Blessed
Teresa of Kolkata a saint at the Vatican Sept. 4, the conclusion of the
Year of Mercy jubilee for those engaged in works of mercy.

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

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.

— Blessed Papczynski founded the Marian Fathers of the
Immaculate Conception in Poland in the 17th century. Today the Marians are
special promoters of the Divine Mercy devotion of St. Faustina Kowalska.

Born in 1631, he was ordained as a Piarist priest, but left
the order after 10 years. His new congregation was established officially in
1679 and he died in 1701. He was beatified in Poland in 2007.

— Blessed Hesselblad was born in Faglavik, Sweden, in 1870
and went to the United States at the age of 18 in search of work to help
support her family. She studied nursing in New York and, impressed by the faith
of the Catholics she cared for, began the process of entering the Catholic
Church. Coming from a Lutheran family, she was conditionally baptized by a
Jesuit priest in Washington, D.C. On a pilgrimage to Rome, she visited the home
of the 14th-century St. Brigid of Sweden and was welcomed by the Carmelite
sisters who were then living there.

She received permission from the pope to make religious vows
under the rule of St. Brigid and re-found the Bridgettine order that had died
out in Sweden after the Protestant Reformation. She was beatified in 2000.

— Blessed Brochero, the “gaucho priest,” was born
in Argentina in 1840 and died in 1914. Ordained for the Archdiocese of Cordoba,
he spent years traveling far and wide by mule to reach his flock. Pope Francis,
in a message in 2013 for the priest’s beatification — a ceremony scheduled
before the Argentine pope was elected — said Father Brochero truly had
“the smell of his sheep.”

He gained particular fame for his work caring for the sick
and dying during a cholera epidemic in 1867. With his own hands, he built
churches and chapels and opened paths through the western mountains of Cordoba
province. During his travels, he contracted Hansen’s disease, more commonly
known as leprosy; many people believe he was infected by sharing a cup of mate,
an herbal tea, with someone who already had the disease.

— Blessed Sanchez was martyred in Mexico in 1928, just
weeks before his 15th birthday. In 1926 Mexican President Plutarco Elias Calles
had introduced tough anti-clerical laws and confiscated church property across
the country. Some 90,000 people were killed in the ensuing Cristero war before
the government and church reached an accord in 1929.

Young Sanchez wanted to fight in the war alongside his brothers,
but he was too young. Eventually, he was allowed to be the flag bearer of a unit.
During an intense battle, he was captured by government troops, who ordered him
to renounce his faith. He refused, even when tortured. The boy was executed
about two weeks later. He was beatified in 2005.

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