Pope Francis has publicly approved the canonization of Albanian nun Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, better known as Mother Teresa of Kolkata, along with four other saints-to-be, at a Vatican public service on Tuesday morning. Mother Teresa will officially become a saint on September 4, 2016 (the day before the 19th anniversary of her death), and hundreds of Missionaries of Charity (members of the order she founded) are expected to be in Rome for the ceremony.
The qualifications for sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church are notoriously steep. You have to live a blameless life and have at least two recorded miracles — after your death. Mother Teresa was beatified in 2003, and last December, Pope Francis confirmed that a second miracle had taken place after her death, qualifying her for sainthood. Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, and died on September 5, 1997, at the age of 87.
Francis also announced the upcoming canonization of two northern Europeans and two Latin Americans.
Jan Papczynski, better known as Blessed Stanislaus of Jesus and Mary, came from Poland, and founded the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. This was the first polish religious order for men. Stanislaus was born in 1631 and died in 1701, but beatified in 2007.
Blessed Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad of Sweden converted from Lutheranism, and founded a new branch of the Bridgettine sisters, which was dedicated to working and praying for the unity of Scandinavian Christians with the Roman Catholic Church. Born in 1870 and having passed away in 1957, Hesselblad will be the first Swedish saint in more than 600 years. She was beatified in 2000.
Sanislaus and Hesselblad will be canonized together on Sunday, June 5.
Next Page: Upcoming American Saints — One Who Died When He Was Only 14.
Pope Francis also announced that his fellow Argentinian, Blessed José Gabriel del Rosario, will be canonized. Del Rosario was known as the “gaucho priest,” using a word meaning a country person, brave but unruly. This priest traveled on a mule throughout his parish’s vast territory in order to visit his flock. He was born in 1840, and passed away in 1914, the year of the First World War. He was beatified in 2013.
Blessed José Luis Sánchez del Río — the last person whom Francis declared will become a saint — was only 14 years old when the Mexican government executed him during the Cristeros War. This war started when the Mexican government outlawed historic privileges granted to the Roman Catholic Church. Rebels fought back, declaring Jesus Christ their king with the phrase “Cristo Rey!” Sanchez sought to join the rebels, but was originally denied. His persistence won him a place as a flag-bearer, but he was captured, tortured, and killed by the Mexican government. He was born in 1913 and died in 1928. He was beatified in 2005.
The two American saints will be canonized on October 16.
Pope Francis is already one of the most popular popes in recent years, and this move will certainly solidify the appreciation of Catholics and non-Catholics for the first American pope who canonized Mother Teresa, one of the most widely acknowledged benefactors of mankind, and especially of the poor.