People celebrate evening Mass Sept. 2 besides the tomb of Mother Teresa in Kolkata. (ucanews.com photo)
Hundreds of pilgrims from across India and aboard are gathering at the motherhouse in Kolkata, the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity congregation that Mother Teresa founded and where she died and is buried, a day before she is made a saint.
Pilgrims usually come to visit the tomb and attend Mass but this time the rush is much more the congregation’s spokesperson Sister Blasella told ucanews.com.
"Mediapersons are also rushing in from everywhere. We are trying to accommodate each and every one of them and taking them to Missionaries of Charity houses across the city," Sister Blasella said.
The motherhouse has only prayer programs on the day of canonization Sept. 4. However big television screens will be installed at the motherhouse and a few other houses of the congregation in the city to telecast the canonization ceremony live from Rome.
Keeping in view of the rush of pilgrims, the city police too have made security arrangements in the area.
Mary Joseph, a volunteer at a Missionaries of Charity house in the American city of Boston, told ucanews.com that she came all the way to Kolkata to be a part of the "holy event."
"Most of my fellow volunteers left for Rome for the ceremony but I chose Kolkata because Mother Teresa lived here, she belongs here. So there is no better place than the motherhouse to attend the ceremony," said Joseph.
Anne Joseph, a resident, said she has seen Mother Teresa since she was a child and "I feel proud that she will become a saint now."
Mother Teresa was born in Skopje, now the capital of Macedonia. She came to India in 1929 as a novice with the Loreto nuns. She left the congregation in the late 1940s and started the Missionaries of Charity in 1950 to serve the poorest of the poor, the homeless sick, dying and destitute.
The Missionaries of Charity now has 5,150 nuns working in 758 homes across five continents.
Mother Teresa died of cardiac arrest at the motherhouse on Sept. 5, 1997. Her canonization process began two years afterward. Pope John Paul II beatified her in October 2003.
Pope Francis will declare Mother Teresa a saint at a ceremony in the Vatican on Sept. 4.
Her tomb at the Missionaries of Charity's headquarters has become a pilgrimage center.
When she died, the Indian government gave Mother Teresa an official state funeral, a ceremony normally afforded to only a head of state or government.
A high-level national delegation headed by the federal foreign minister and two state-level delegations will visit the Vatican to attend the Sept. 4 ceremony. Over 350 people from Kolkata have travelled to the Vatican to be a part of the event.