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Students attend canonization of Mother Teresa

| Monday, September 5, 2016

On Sunday, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the nun who gained international fame for her ministry to the poor and sick, was officially recognized as a Catholic saint.

Thousands packed St. Peter’s Square in Rome for the canonization Mass with Pope Francis — including about 35 Notre Dame students, just beginning their study-abroad programs.

Junior Morgan Paladino, the student minister for the fall semester in Rome, said the group arrived at 4:45 a.m. for the 10:30 a.m. Mass.

“It was a lot of waiting that didn’t really feel that long because of the camaraderie of being there, sitting on the ground together, some people sleeping, some people talking, all just excited for what was to come,” Paladino said in a Facebook message.

In hand were tickets Paladino had requested for the group from the Missionaries of Charity in Rome. Mother Teresa founded the religious order in Kolkata, India — formerly Calcutta — in 1950 after feeling called to serve the poor there.

Over the next several decades she traveled around the world, founding Missionaries of Charity houses and speaking against poverty and abortion. Her many trips to the United States included a visit to Saint Mary’s in 1974, according to the Notre Dame Campus Ministry website.

Critics questioned the quality of her order’s medical care and her philosophy of suffering, but she became an icon of ministry to the poor. After she died in 1997, Pope John Paul II sped up the customary canonization process, allowing her to become a saint just 19 years later.

The Notre Dame group — composed partly of students attending John Cabot University in Rome, partly of third-year architecture students and partly of those visiting from the Dublin program — was among the first inside the square, where a giant portrait of the soon-to-be-saint was set up. They introduced themselves to the people around them: Paladino and her friend met a woman who said she worked for UNICEF and had met Mother Teresa several times.

“It was such a new perspective — to hear someone iconic and revered described as a personality one might encounter at a United Nations meeting,” Paladino said.

As the Mass began, the students watched Pope Francis emerge into the square. As is the case for many St. Peter’s services, the Mass included segments in multiple languages, including Begali and Albanian (the newly-Saint Teresa was ethnically Albanian), as well as Italian, Latin and English. The actual canonization, however, began just after the opening rites.

“For Mother Teresa, mercy was the salt which gave flavour to her work, it was the light which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering,” Pope Francis told the crowd, according to an article from Reuters.

Paladino said the crowd was initially as silent as she thought 100,000 people could be.

“And I tell you, as soon as the pope had spoken her name, ‘Madre Teresa,’ the crowd roared and cheered and clapped,” she said.

“It was a riveting moment, knowing that such a magnificent example of holiness and service in our time would now be recognized as a saint, as someone we could pray to for intercession.”

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About Emily McConville

Emily McConville is a news writer and photographer for the Observer. She is a senior studying history and Italian with a minor in journalism. She is from Louisville, KY and lives off-campus.

Contact Emily