Vatican City (Fides Service) – On Mission Sunday, 19 October, Pope John Paul II presided a solemn Mass in St Peter’s Square during which he beatified Mother Teresa of Calcutta 1910-1997 foundress of the Missionaries of Charity. “Is it not significant that her beatification takes place on Mission Sunday?” the Pope asked in his homily. “With the witness of her life Mother Teresa reminds everyone that the Church’s evangelising mission passes by way of charity nourished in prayer and listening to the Word of God. Emblematic of this missionary life style is the memory of Blessed Mother Teresa holding in one hand the hand of a child and in the other her rosary beads. Contemplation and action, evangelisation and human promotion: Mother Teresa proclaimed the Gospel with her life totally dedicated to the poor but at the same time enveloped in prayer”.
The Beatification Mass was attended by at least 300,000 visitors from all over the world as well as national delegations from Albania and Macedonia (Mother’s homeland) and the Indian minister of Justice. At the request of the Missionaries of Charity special seats near the altar were reserved for 2000 poor people who were afterwards invited to lunch at the Paul VI Audience Hall. “I am personally grateful to this courageous woman whom I have always felt close to me – the Pope said in his homily -. An icon of the Good Samaritan, she went everywhere to serve Christ in the poorest of the poor. Not even war or conflict stopped her. Every now and then she would come and tell me about her experience at the service of the Gospel values…In times of darkness she would cling all the more tenaciously to prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. This painful spiritual travail led her to identify herself ever more closely with those she served day after day and to experience suffering and at times even rejection. She loved to say that the greatest poverty is that of being unwanted, no one to care for you. We praise this little woman in love with God, humble messenger of the Gospel and tireless benefactor of humanity. We honour in her one of the most important personalities of our era. Let us listen to her message and follow her example”.
At the end of Mass as he introduced the Angelus prayer, the Pope greeted the visitors in various languages and said “As we prepare to recite the Angelus, let us remember that the Most Holy Mary was always for Mother Teresa a model both in prayer and in missionary action. Through the intercession of the new Blessed, may Our Lady help us to grow in love of God and neighbour”. SL (Fides Service 20/10/2003 EM lines 35 Words: 478)