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Mother Teresa on road to sainthood

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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VATICAN CITY (CNN) -- Mother Teresa, the Albanian-born nun who worked among the poor of the Indian city of Kolkata, has had a miracle attributed to her by Pope John Paul's office, the Italian media reported.

A special Vatican committee found that Mother Teresa was involved in a miracle -- a key step in her beatification -- when a 30-year-old Kolkata woman was cured of a stomach tumour.

The reports said Monica Besra was healed after praying to Mother Teresa, who died in 1997 at the age of 87, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. Vatican officials refused to comment on Tuesday.

After consulting with doctors, the Vatican panel found there was no "scientific explanation" for the woman's recovery, making it a miracle, the agency said.

The committee's findings will not become official until they are approved by Pope John Paul II. Monsignor Robert Sarno, who heads the panel, would say only that "the cause is under study."

If Mother Teresa, who founded the Missionaries of Charities order that ministered to the poor and sick of Kolkata, is beatified, involvement in a second miracle will be needed before she is elevated to saint.

If the pope approves the panel's findings, it will speed up Mother Teresa's beatification, making it likely she will be declared a saint sometime next year.

Last month the committee decided Mother Teresa possessed "heroic virtues" of the Christian faith for her services to the poor.

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 candidate's 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.

  • "She was a real holy woman. She lived her life according to the Gospel in the most authentic way," Cardinal Pio Laghi told Reuters.

    "She deserved the preferential, fast track to beatification."

    Under church rules, five years must pass after a person dies before the long bureaucratic procedure for sainthood can begin. But in 1999, Pope John Paul II granted a dispensation so the procedure could start less than two years after her death.

    Devotees of Mother Teresa began pressing the Vatican soon after her death to speed up the nun's sainthood cause, saying her holiness was clear to many around the world.

    Her nuns and priests continue her work around the world, including some ex-communist countries where she was banned. Her order has offices in Europe, Africa, the Americas and Australia, as well as Hong Kong and Russia.

    A Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mother Teresa set up her order in the slums of Kolkata in 1950 and made her headquarters in the Indian city for nearly half a century.

    Her small figure in a white-and-blue sari and sandals became familiar around the world. She was known to buttonhole politicians and executives and not let go until they promised to help the poor.

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