Pope approves miracle for Mother Teresa's canonisation
Pope Francis has signed off on the miracle needed to make Mother Teresa a saint, giving the nun who cared for the poor one of the Catholic Church's highest honours just two decades after her death.
The Vatican said Francis approved a decree attributing a miracle to Mother Teresa's intercession during an audience on Thursday - his 79th birthday.
No date was set for the canonisation, but Italian media have speculated that the ceremony will take place in the first week of September - coinciding with the anniversary of her death, and taking place during Francis' Holy Year of Mercy.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, died on September 5 1997, aged 87.
At the time of her death, her Calcutta-based Missionaries of Charity order had nearly 4,000 nuns and ran roughly 600 orphanages, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and clinics around the world.
Francis, whose papacy has been dedicated to ministering to the poor just as Mother Teresa did, is a known fan. During a September 2014 visit to Albania, Francis confided to his interpreter that he was not only impressed by her fortitude, but in some ways feared it.
Francis recounted that he had met Mother Teresa when they attended a 1994 bishop synod at the Vatican. At the time, he was Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
"Bergoglio had Mother Teresa behind him, nearby, and he heard her intervene often with great strength, without letting herself in any way be intimidated by this assembly of bishops," Vatican spokesman Rev Federico Lombardi later recounted.
"And from that he developed a great esteem for her, as a strong woman, a woman able to give courageous testimony."
Mother Teresa, born in Macedonia as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in 1910, was beatified in 2003 in Rome after the Vatican said an Indian woman's prayers to the nun rid her of an incurable tumour.
The miracle needed for her canonisation concerned the inexplicable cure in 2008 of a man in Brazil with multiple brain abscesses who, within a day of being in a coma, was cured, according to a report in Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops' conference.
The Vatican ascertained that his wife's prayers for Mother Teresa's intercession were responsible, the report said.