The Chief Minister of India’s West Bengal state has accepted the invitation of the nuns of Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata to attend the sainthood ceremony of the ‘saint of the gutter’ in Rome in September. Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of the eastern state of which Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) is the capital, on Sunday posted a tweet on her Twitter handle saying, "I have accepted Sr Prema's invitation to be present at the canonisation of blessed Mother Teresa in Rome on 4 Sep." Banerjee's decision followed an invitation extended to her earlier in the day by Sr. Prema, the Superior General of the Missioanries of Charity (MC) congregation.
The chief minister will be accompanied by Sister Prema, Archbishop Thomas D’souza of Calcutta, several other dignitaries and others from the MC mother house in Kolkata. Monica Besra, a tribal woman from West Bengal's South Dinajpur district, whose 'miracle' cure was instrumental in Mother Teresa's beatification on October 19, 2003, is also expected to accompany the delegation to the Vatican.
Banerjee’s decision came close on the heels of her All India Trinamool Congress party scoring a landslide two-third majority in the West Bengal state Legislative Assembly election, that gave her a second term as chief minister, the first woman to hold the post.
Pope Francis announced in March that the Mother would be declared a saint in a canonisation ceremony on September 4, the eve of her 19th death anniversary. Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu of Albanian parents on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, in what is Macedonia today, Mother Teresa died in Kolkata, on September 5, 1997. Affectionately known as the "saint of the gutter" for her unconditional love for the poor, abandoned and the marginalized, she earned several international honours, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.