ROME — An Italian news agency reported Wednesday that Mother Teresa will be declared a saint by Pope Francis in early September 2016, though the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints has still not attributed to her a second miracle, a step needed to complete canonization process.
The Italian agency AGI reported that the canonization, the formal act of declaring someone a saint, would be held Sept. 5, 2016, although L’Avvenire, the official newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, said it would more likely be Sept. 4, a Sunday.
Sept. 5 is the official feast day for Mother Teresa as a “blessed,” the final stage before sainthood, and it is also the anniversary of her death in 1997.
The Vatican’s medical board has already confirmed the inexplicable cure of Brazilian man who had been diagnosed with multiple brain tumors as due to the intercession of Mother Teresa, but the board’s decision still has to be approved by the bishops and cardinals who make up the sainthood congregation.
The Vatican Insider news agency reports that the miracle attributed to Mother Teresa’s intercession will be examined by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in December.
The bishops could request further proof, which would delay the process. But if they accept the medical ruling, the prefect of the congregation, Italian Cardinal Angelo Amato, will present the case to the pope, who will still need to accept the miracle and set a date for the ceremony in order for the canonization to move forward.
Similar rumors about a September 2016 canonization arose last May, but a Vatican spokesman said at the time that the date was merely a “working hypothesis.”
“The [sainthood] process of Mother Teresa is still ongoing, so it’s premature to talk of a date for the canonization,” said the Rev. Federico Lombardi.
Lombardi told the Associated Press on Wednesday that canonization “would be lovely” and called the possibility she would be made a saint next year a “reasonable hypothesis, desire” by admirers.
Rumors about the canonization of Mother Teresa have been especially strong since Pope Francis called for a Holy Year of Mercy, which begins Dec. 8.
Whenever the canonization comes, it is expected to be among the largest public events in Rome’s recent history.
Mother Teresa was born to Albanian parents in Skopje, Macedonia, on August 26, 1910, but spent most of her life in India caring for the poorest of the poor.
During a September 2014 trip to Tirana, Albania’s capital, Pope Francis paid a special tribute to Mother Teresa, saying that she, “together with the martyrs who witnessed to their faith, most certainly are rejoicing in heaven because of the work of men and women of good will who contribute to the flourishing of civil society and the Church in Albania.”
At the time, Francis told the priest who served as his interpreter during the one-day trip that he had met Mother Teresa at a 1994 gathering of bishops in Rome. According to Lombardi, the pope told the priest that that Mother Teresa wasn’t fazed by anything and “always said what she wanted to say.”
“She sat right behind me during the sessions,” Francis told the priest. “I admired her strength and the decisive character of her involvement, never letting herself be fazed by the assembly of bishops.”
“I would have been scared if she had been my mother superior,” the pope told the priest.
Mother Teresa is the founder of the Missionaries of Charity, a religious order that today operates in 133 countries and runs hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy, and tuberculosis, as well as soup kitchens, mobile clinics, orphanages, and schools.