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Needing a miracle, she found one

From Satinder Bindra

Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa

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CNN's Satinder Bindra talks to Monica Besra, a woman who claims that praying to Mother Teresa cured her of cancer. (October 1)
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Steps to sainthood
In the 10th century, Pope John XV developed an official canonisation procedure, which went through some revisions in the ensuing 1,000 years.

  • The process must begin five years after the candidates' death. (Pope John Paul II waived this requirement in Mother Teresa's case.)
  • Local bishops investigate the life of the candidate and the findings are sent to the Vatican.
  • After approval by a panel of theologians and cardinals, the pope proclaims the candidate is "venerable," meaning a role model of Roman Catholic virtues.
  • The next step is beatification if it is determined by the church that the candidate is responsible for a miracle after his or her death.
  • Finally, for the designation of  saint, the church must certify proof of a second posthumous miracle.

  • KOLKATA, India (CNN) -- The tumor on her stomach had grown so large that Monica Besra appeared seven months pregnant. She would die unless it vanished.

    With nothing left to lose, the 30-year-old homemaker in September 1998 visited the Missionaries of Charity. She prayed for her life, she prayed for a miracle.

    She prayed to Mother Teresa.

    "As soon as I stepped into the church, there was a photograph of Mother Teresa, and there was a light from the photograph that came toward me and I was stunned," Besra told CNN Tuesday. "Later, the sisters prayed for me, and I went to sleep. When I got up at 1 in the morning, I found the big tumor had disappeared.''

    What saved her, she said, was nothing less than a miracle, and the Roman Catholic Church agrees.

    Pope John Paul II's office has declared the event a miracle, clearing one of the final hurdles standing in the way of declaring the nun a saint, Italian news agencies reported Tuesday.

    Mother Teresa, whose work in Kolkata's slums won her a Nobel Peace Prize, is reputed to be on the fast track for sainthood because the pope wants to promote her message of love and kindness to the poor. The church has already conferred the title of "venerable" on Mother Teresa, who died in 1997, and now needs to document that she performed one more miracle to make her a saint.

    Count R.N Bhattaccharya as one of Mother Teresa's believers. Science cannot explain what happened to Besra, said Bhattaccharya, who is the woman's physician.

    "I did not find any reason that without an operation a tumor of such size would disappear overnight," he said. "So I think maybe the Mother's blessings were on Monica."

    Besra said she thinks of Mother Teresa all the time. So does her doctor.

    "It is difficult to describe what I felt with this whole event," Bhattaccharya said. "But this is one of the very wonderful experiences that I ever had in my medical career."

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