Palghar, Maharashtra–When the world celebrated the proclamation of Mother Teresa as a ‘Saint’ on Sunday, September 4, by Pope Francis in the Vatican, a church in Maharashtra had its own memorable celebrations.
On that day, ‘The Blessed Mother Teresa Church’ in Virar town here, around 60 km north of Mumbai, was -christened as ‘St. Mother Teresa Church’ amidst pious celebrations for the lady who touched the hearts of millions of poor in India with her selfless charitable works.
The renaming ceremony brought alive the cherished memories of Mother Teresa’s only visit here in April 1986 for the people of Vasai-Virar and made it perhaps the only church in the country to be dedicated to ‘Saint’ Mother Teresa.
“She had blessed the people of this Diocese, inaugurated the extension wing of the Cardinal Gracias Hospital and later addressed a youth rally here,” Father Richard Dabre, Secretary to Archbishop, Diocese of Vasai, told IANS.
St. Mother Teresa Church also treasures a drop of Mother Teresa’s blood — a relic enshrined in a glass case — which attracts thousands of people from all over the country.
A magnificent, one-tonne statue of Mother Teresa, constructed in stark white Makarana marble, erected in 2012, looks benevolently upon the worshippers inside the church, Dabre said.
People all over the world will remember Mother Teresa, especially in Kolkata where she dedicated her life to serving the poorest of poor, earning the nickname of ‘Saint of the Gutters’ during her lifetime, through the Missionaries of Charity she founded.
Born on August 26, 1910, as Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, in Skopje, Macedonia, the former school teacher attracted global attention, was honoured with some of the most prestigious awards, including India’s top civilian award Bharat Ratna in 1980, Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1962.
Wearing a white sari with blue border — her perpetually smiling, wrinkled face etched permanently in the memory of the people — she remained an ever-accessible human being to commoners, celebrities and world leaders till her death on September 5, 1997, aged 87.
Her death anniversary has been declared by the UN as ‘International Day of Charity’ and Indian Railways introduced a new train ‘Mother Express’ on her birth centenary in 2010.
After her passing, the Vatican initiated the process of canonising her as a Saint which finally happened on Sunday.
Over the years, she inspired articles, books, dramas, films, documentaries, a painting series by the late Indian artist M.F. Husain, hundreds of coins and postage stamps by countries around the world.