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Mother Teresa declared a saint by Pope

AAP logoAAP 3/09/2016

Mother Teresa, the Catholic nun who worked on behalf of the poor in the Indian city of Kolkata for a half-century, has been declared a saint by Pope Francis on Sunday.

Nineteen years after her death at the age of 87, the title was given to Teresa in a ceremony in St Peter's Square attended by tens of thousands of admirers.

Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia, the ethnic Albanian Teresa helped the poor in India for most of her life.

In 1950, she got permission to open her own order in Kolkata, the Missionaries of Charity, with the purpose of caring for those who had no one to look after them. Today the order has 4,500 members and runs homes for the homeless in 133 countries.

She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

Thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter's Square applauded as the tiny nun known as the "saint of the gutters" in her lifetime was officially elevated to join the church's more than 10,000 saints.

Francis's predecessor Pope John Paul II bent Vatican rules to fast-track Mother Teresa to sainthood - a process which usually does not start until five years after the candidate's death - two years after she died in 1997.

The ceremony began with a mass in front of some 100,000 people, who had gathered to witness the historic event.

Some 70 cardinals, 400 bishops and 1700 priests, and foreign officials were also in attendance.

The most important part of the ceremony was the canonisation rite, when Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints Cardinal Angelo Amato presented the request to canonise Mother Teresa.

Pope Francis then responded in Latin by declaring her a saint.

The faithful had gathered at the square about three hours ahead of the ceremony, undergoing several security checks.

One of the areas closest to the altar was reserved for some 1,500 homeless people, who were offered a lunch of pizza by Pope Francis.

Some 3000 police officers were on patrol around the area of Saint Peter's Basilica.

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