Pope Francis celebrated his 79th birthday on Thursday (Dec. 17) with a gift to the many devotees of Mother Teresa of Calcutta: The pontiff gave final clearance for “the saint of the gutters” to become an official saint.
According to a report in the newspaper of the Italian bishops conference, Francis signed a decree declaring that the inexplicable 2008 cure of a Brazilian man who was diagnosed with multiple brain tumors was due to the intercession of the Albanian-born nun, who died in 1997.
The column in Avvenire by Stefania Falasca said the pontiff’s action came three days after a Vatican panel of cardinals and bishops affirmed the judgment of medical experts and theologians who concluded that there was no medical explanation for the apparent cure.
Falasca said the pope would probably canonize Mother Teresa next year on Sunday, Sept. 4, the day before the anniversary of her death, which is also her official feast day.
Mother Teresa, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who was famous for her work with the poorest of the poor in India, had been beatified — the penultimate step before sainthood — in 2002 after the attribution of another miracle healing to her intercession.
Catholic Church protocols for sainthood generally require evidence that a person lived a virtuous and holy life and that two miracles can be attributed to the sainthood candidate’s intercession with God. Catholics who were martyred for the faith can be declared saints with evidence of just one miracle.
Francis has often bypassed the usual norms to declare someone a saint, which means that the church officially declares that someone is in heaven and worthy of veneration as a model of sanctity by the faithful on Earth.