Northern Ireland news

Archbishop Martin: Mother Teresa's canonisation 'source of great joy'

From left, Sr. Mary Prema Pierick, Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, Marcilio Andrino, centre and his wife Fernanda Nascimento Rocha at the Vatican. Picture by Alessandra Tarantino, Associated Press

MOTHER Teresa's canonisation this weekend is an affirmation of her "long life of heroic virtue", Catholic primate Archbishop Eamon Martin has said.

Pope Francis will celebrate a Mass of canonisation in Saint Peter's Square tomorrow, the eve of the 19th anniversary of the nun's death.

Dr Martin said Blessed Teresa is "greatly loved and venerated by the faithful throughout Ireland and by millions around the world".

"By declaring Mother Teresa a saint, the Holy Father Pope Francis is affirming her long life of heroic virtue, and outstanding fidelity to God's grace," he said.

Dr Martin said the canonisation will also be a "source of great pride and joy" to the order Mother Teresa established in 1950, the Missionaries of Charity.

"The Loreto Sisters in Ireland whom she joined in Dublin in 1928 and by whom she was sent to India, will also rejoice," he said.

"In particular, I offer my prayerful good wishes at this time to the Missionary of Charity communities ministering in the Irish dioceses of Armagh, Dublin, Cloyne and Elphin.

"Mother Teresa was a champion of the poor and continues to be a source of inspiration to all of us, especially during this Year of Mercy we are celebrating at the invitation of Pope Francis."

Dr Martin will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Church's newest saint, who spent time in west Belfast at the start of the Troubles, in St Malachy's Church in Armagh on Monday.

A Vatican spokesman said all 100,000 tickets have been distributed for tomorrow's Mass in Rome but the crowd will probably be far greater, spilling into the main streets around St Peter's Square.

By yesterday, 15 official delegations have confirmed their presence, 13 led by heads of state or government, and 600 journalists have been accredited.

British-Kosovan singer Rita Ora is to perform in front of Pope Francis ahead of the canonisation.

The 25-year-old said it was a "real honour" to perform traditional Christmas song What Child Is This at the event to celebrate Mother Teresa, who was born in Kosovo.

Meanwhile, the Brazilian man whose "miraculous" cure from a brain infection paved the way for Mother Teresa's canonisation said he is grateful for his life but does not feel particularly chosen by God.

Marcilio Haddad Andrino told a Vatican press conference he is just one example of God's ample mercy and love.

"The merciful Lord looks at us all without distinction," Mr Andrino said. "Maybe it was me this time but maybe tomorrow it will be someone else. The merciful mother looks after everyone. I don't feel special."

Pope Francis decreed in December that Mr Andrino's cure was a miracle after Vatican doctors and theologians determined that it was medically inexplicable, instantaneous, lasting and due to the intercession of Mother Teresa, who died in 1997.

It was the final step needed to canonise the nun who cared for the poorest of the poor.

Mr Andrino's wife, Fermanda Nascimento Rocha, recalled that she and her family began fervently praying for Mother Teresa's intercession after receiving a relic of the nun in September 2008, after Mr Andrino began suffering from the effects of a viral brain infection.

By December that year, despite powerful antibiotics, the brain abscesses and fluid had built up so much that he was suffering debilitating headaches, but surgery was cancelled on the day it was scheduled.

When the surgeon returned to Mr Andrino's room, he was awake and pain-free, according to the priest spearheading Mother Teresa's sainthood cause, the Rev Brian Kolodiejchuk.

Within six months, he had returned to work and soon after, the couple conceived the first of their two children, though Mr Andrino had been told that the powerful drugs he had taken had made him infertile.

He calls his two children "the extension of that miracle", adding: "We are very grateful to Mother Teresa for our family."

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