West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee gifts Bible bound in Baluchari silk to Pope Francis

Mother Teresa, the nun whose work with the dying and destitute of Kolkata made her a global icon of Christian charity, was made a saint on Sunday.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee gifts Bible bound in Baluchari silk to Pope Francis
Pic courtsey: @MamataOfficial

Kolkata: Even as the nuns of the Missionaries of Charity on Sunday cheered loudly, clapped freely and rang bells the moment Pope Francis declared Mother Teresa a saint, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took to the social media to reveal that she had gifted a Bible in Bengali bound in Baluchuri silk to Pope Francis at Vatican City.

In a tweet, Mamata, who attended the function in Vatican, said Missionaries of Charity's Superior General Sister Prema and Archbishop of Kolkata would hand over the holy book to the Pope.

"Sr Prema & Kolkata Archbishop met @MamataOfficial today. This Bible bound in Baluchuri to b handed over to @Pontifex," Banerjee tweeted.

Banerjee is in Vatican with 12-member official delegation as a guest of the Missionaries.

Meanwhile, decked up with larger-than-life posters of the late Roman Catholic nun, the Mother House, headquarters of the congregation and house of the saint in Kolkata, was kept open throughout the day as visitors poured in to watch the ceremony live on big TV screens and offer flowers at her tomb.

The sisters of the Order, who don't watch TV or use mobile phones, made an exception as they all remained glued to specially-arranged large screens.

 Around 300 of them gathered from nearby homes to watch the canonisation ceremony live.

Pope Francis today proclaimed Mother Teresa a saint, hailing her as the personification of maternal love and a powerful advocate for the poor.

"We may have some difficulty in calling her 'Saint' Teresa," the pontiff said. "Her holiness is so near to us, so tender and so fruitful that we continue to spontaneously call her Mother. She made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crime - the crimes - of poverty they created."

The unscripted comments came at a canonisation mass attended by 100,000 pilgrims, including 13 heads of state or government and hundreds of sari-clad nuns from Teresa's order, the Missionaries of Charity.

Queen Sofia of Spain and some 1,500 homeless people also looked on as Pope Francis described Teresa's work in the slums of the Indian metropolis as "eloquent witness to God's closeness to the poorest of the poor."

To applause, he added, "Mother Teresa loved to say, 'perhaps I don't speak their language but I can smile'. Let us carry her smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along our journey, especially those who suffer."

Pope Francis also used his sermon to recall Teresa's fervent opposition to abortion, which she termed "murder by the mother" in a controversial Nobel Peace prize speech in 1979.

She "ceaselessly proclaimed that the unborn are the weakest", he said.

The ceremony came on the eve of the 19th anniversary of Teresa's death in Kolkata, where she spent nearly four decades working in wretched slums.

With the 16th century basilica of St Peter's glinting in the late summer sun, Francis led a ritual mass that has barely changed for centuries.

Speaking in Latin, he declared "blessed Teresa of Calcutta (Kolkata) to be a Saint... Decreeing that she is to be venerated as such by the whole Church."

After the mass, the 79-year-old pontiff boarded an open-topped jeep and toured around St Peter's square and surrounding streets to a rapturous reception from tens of thousands of well-wishers. 

(With PTI inputs)