As Co-patroness, Mother Teresa Continues to Show the Path

As Co-patroness, Mother Teresa Continues to Show the Path

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More than two decades after her death, Saint Mother Teresa was declared as the co-patroness of the Archdiocese of Calcutta at a Holy mass held at the Catholic cathedral, commonly known as the Portuguese Church, in central Kolkata on 6 September.

The event also celebrated the first anniversary of her canonisation, held on 4 September 2016 in Vatican, attended by hundreds of dignitaries across the globe.

She is the second patroness of Kolkata after St Francis Xavier, who was declared patron when the Archdiocese of Calcutta was established in 1886.

Also Read: Mother Teresa Inspired Me to Adopt a Baby & Changed My Life

'She Showed Us the Way of Life'

The first Catholic Chapel was established in the city in 1700. The Vicariate Apostolic of Bengal, with Kolkata as its headquarters, was established in 1834 by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).

St Francis Xavier, a Jesuit and a missionary to India, was declared the patron of the Archdiocese of Calcutta, as the fathers of the Society of Jesus were first entrusted with the Bengal territory. There are eight Archbishops in West Bengal, with each having its own patron.

Around 500 people stood witness to the event when Vicar General Dominique Gomes read the decree instituting Saint Teresa as the second patroness saint of the archdiocese.

“We now officially declare St Teresa of Calcutta as the co-patron of Archdiocese of Calcutta,” Vicar General read out from a decree in the presence of Vatican's ambassador to India, Most Rev Giambattista Diquattro, along with bishops and archbishops from across the state and nuns of the Missionaries of Charity, which was founded in the city by St Teresa.

Diquattro, who refused to speak to the media persons, expressed Vatican's approval, saying, “She (St Teresa) showed us the way of life...as ordained by Jesus Christ.”

Also Read: From Sister to Mother to Saint: The Journey of Mother Teresa

Bronze statue of Mother Teresa unveiled by Vatican ambassador.
Bronze statue of Mother Teresa unveiled by Vatican ambassador.
(Photo: Gurvinder Singh/ The Quint)

Celebrating First Anniversary of Canonisation

TMC Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien also took part in the prayers. The mass prayers that began around 5:30 pm, continued for around 90 minutes after Mother Teresa was declared as the co-patroness.

A bronze statue of St Teresa was also unveiled inside the church on the occasion by the Vatican ambassador in the presence of the vicar general and archbishop.

The ceremony was also attended by differently-abled children, and those from the orphanages run by the Missionaries of Charity. The children sang hymns in the presence of the dignitaries after the mass was over.

Most Rev Thomas D’Souza, the Archdiocese of Calcutta took the decision to grant the Mother with the new status to commemorate the first anniversary of her canonisation, though the approval has to come from Rome.

We continue to have Francis Xavier as our patron for nearly one-and-a-half century, but in 2016, we had another saint when Mother Teresa was canonised and conferred with Sainthood. We have decided to make her co-patroness to commemorate the twentieth year of her passing away and first anniversary of canonisation. She will be considered as the intercessor of us in Heaven.
Most Rev Thomas D’Souza

He further added that Mother Teresa’s name would be mentioned whenever people under the Archdiocese pray or a mass is held.

He said, patron saints of churches are normally chosen because of some connection of the saint to that place, “Saint Mother Teresa was chosen because she stayed most part of her life in the city and worked for the upliftment of the poorest of the poor.”

Prayers were also held at the Mother House in the city attended by members of the Christian community. Floral tributes were kept at her grave by the devotees.

Also Read: Mother Teresa: Human Frailties and Godliness

People paying floral tribute to Mother Teresa at Portuguese Church in central Kolkata, 6 September 2017.
People paying floral tribute to Mother Teresa at Portuguese Church in central Kolkata, 6 September 2017.
(Photo: Gurvinder Singh/ The Quint)

Beacon of Charity

The practice of adopting patron saints dates back to the building of the first public churches in the Roman Empire, most of which were built over graves of martyrs. The churches were then given the name of the martyr, and the martyr was expected to act as an intercessor for the congregation who worshiped there. With the change of time, churches began to be dedicated to other holy men and women, saints who were not martyrs.

Sister Prema, the current superior general of the Missionaries of Charity of Calcutta, also inaugurated a two-day exhibition of paintings and sculptures on Saint Teresa organised by the Indian National Forum of Art and Culture, in association with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Church Art to commemorate the first anniversary of the Nobel laureate’s canonisation on 4 September.

A Holy Mass was also held at the Mother House on 5 September to celebrate the feast day of Saint Teresa.

Born to Kosovan Albanian parents in Skopje, now the capital of Macedonia, Mother Teresa won the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize and was revered around the world as a beacon for the Christian values of self-sacrifice and charity. She passed away on 5 September 1997 in Kolkata. She was beatified in 2003.

Also Read: These 10 Quotes By Mother Teresa Will Inspire You

Video Editor: Mohd Ibrahim

(The writer is a Kolkata-based freelance journalist.)

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