After Nobel laureates, Kolkata now boasts a saint

After Nobel laureates, Kolkata now boasts a saint

After Nobel laureates, Kolkata now boasts a saint
Joyous chants erupted thousands of kilometres away from the Vatican, outside the Mother House in central Kolkata, as Pope Francis canonised Mother Teresa and declared her Santa Teresa di Calcutta on Sunday. While the canonisation turned out to be the fastest in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, Kolkata, home to most Nobel laureates in India, can now boast of a saint too.

The scene outside Mother House, where St Teresa spent much of her five decades in Kolkata and the global headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity (MoC), has been the centre of all attention for the past few days. On Sunday, all roads led to the somewhat nondescript building near Moulali in central Kolkata, where thousands gathered to join in the celebrations. The rest of Kolkata stayed glued to hi-definition TV sets, taking in every step of the ritual that went into the making of St Teresa, while hundreds of others gathered before the giant LED screens set up at street corners.

In their signature humility and simplicity, sisters of MoC watched the ceremony on a borrowed TV set as the rules of the Order does not allow any possessions other than three pair of sarees and a pair of sandals given to them at the time of joining, along with a canvas bag to carry a plate and spoon.

Outside Mother House, the gathering included thousands of Christians, rubbing shoulders with Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims, to pay respects at her tomb and watch the ceremony on the moderate-sized TV set inside the building’s hall. Sisters also set up a blue-white tent on the street where they sang for the benefit of those who could not be accommodated inside.

Sheikh Nurul Islam, who was a part of the festivities, noted that this was probably the first such major gathering outside the Mother House since the nun passed away in 1997. Islam, who sells statues of St Teresa along with rosaries, said, “It’s wrong to speak of her just on the basis of her religion. She was truly a saint, an angel sent to take care of us.”
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