In the Roman Catholic Church, being canonized as a saint isn’t just a matter of being saintly: In order to be canonized, a person’s life must be posthumously investigated for either special sanctity or martyrdom, and (supposing they were not martyred) must be credited with involvement with at least two miracles before their sainthood is affirmed by the Church. On Friday, with a miracle approval from Pope Francis, Mother Teresa just cleared one of the last technical hurdles on the way to sainthood.
Mother Teresa had already been beatified (styling her Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and allowing her veneration in a limited sense) in 2003 by St. Pope John Paul II, due to a healing miracle attributed to her. The brief time between her death and ’97 and beatification in ’03 meant Mother Teresa received one of the swiftest canonization processes in modern history, one that may reach its conclusion as early as next year.
If Mother Teresa is canonized in September of next year, as expected, she will join the ranks of Roman Catholic Saints as a profoundly charitable and selfless servant of the poor who, despite her life of service, struggled deeply with her own faith, feeling for some 50 years that God’s presence was missing in her life. She will likely also be the only saint ever to have the late Christopher Hitchens on the list of those approached for evidence against the canonization cause.