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ASIA
MAY 17, 1999 VOL. 153 NO. 19


The Road to Sainthood
Despite a torrent of reported miracles, even a hastened canonization of India's Saint of the Gutters may take years
By MEENAKSHI GANGULY Calcutta

A Chicago bank executive ended up in a wheelchair after a car accident 12 years ago. In despair, she went to Calcutta to see Mother Teresa. As the banker wheeled herself into the room, the world's most famous nun smiled and blessed her. "The crash had turned me into a vegetable," recalls the woman. "But within a few days of her blessings, I began to find strength. I began to improve. Today, I can move around without any problem."

Though Vatican protocol dictates that the identities of the woman and others like her must remain secret for now, stories like this are pouring into the quiet Calcutta office of the Missionaries of Charity, the religious order that Mother Teresa founded in 1950. Since her death a year and a half ago, friends and followers have insisted that Mother Teresa was specially blessed and deserves to be recognized by the Catholic Church as a saint. Earlier this year, the Vatican proclaimed that it would forgo the requisite five-year waiting period before the process of canonization can begin. It appointed Father Brian Kolodiejchuk to represent her order, and gather evidence of her holiness. Already, several people have written to Sister Nirmala, Mother Teresa's successor, to express hope that their heroine becomes the first person to attain sainthood in the new millennium--and more than 100 have reported "miracles."

A supervisor of a rubber factory in southern India writes that he thought his life was over 17 years ago when he contracted leprosy. But his "skin started improving" after a blessing from Mother Teresa. "Today I still have some patches, but I am cured." In 1984, Mother Teresa visited a cancer hospital in Tel Aviv to bless the patients, most of whom had lost hope for life. One of them was an 18-year-old girl. Now 33, she says that Mother's "magic touch" cured her.

Though the Missionaries of Charity are working with Father Brian, a Canadian, to collect evidence, they are not hurrying the process. "It would be great if Mother Teresa were declared a saint," Sister Nirmala told TIME. "It would be great for us in the Missionaries of Charity. It would be great for the people of Calcutta and for the whole Church and the whole world. But I will not press for her canonization in the year 2000. It must happen when it has to happen."

PAGE 1  |  2



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