The pontiff will receive the relic during the beatification ceremony, Canadian priest Brian Kolodiejchuk said on Monday in Vatican city.

  

The reliquary would be placed in the pope's private chapel, said Father Kolodiejchuk, a missionary from a charity working with the postulator, or advocate presenting the case for beatification.

  

The blood was taken from the body of Mother Teresa, who died in 1997, by a doctor acting under the supervision of ecclesiastical authorities when the body was exhumed for beatification.

 

Nuns belonging to Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity began arriving in Rome on Monday for the ceremony.

  

One group arrived from Mumbai and New Delhi, wearing their traditional blue-edged white saris, while a second flew in from Atlanta in the United States accompanied by the secretary general of the synod of bishops, Belgian Cardinal Jan Pieter Schotte.

  

The committee organising the event expects more than 200,000 people, 80% of them Italian, to gather at the Vatican for the beatification which will be presided over by the pope.

 

Nobel prize

  

Mother Teresa was born to Albanian parents in 1910. After taking her vows as a nun, she moved to India and spent almost half a century ministering to the dying destitute in Calcutta.

  

Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she died in 1997 after seeing her Missionaries of Charity order expand its activities to 500 centres in 132 countries.

  

The beatification of Mother Teresa, a first step towards canonisation, will be another test of the health of the frail 83-year-old pope, who suffers from Parkinson's disease and arthritis. The ceremony is due to last three hours.

  

The Italian authorities are mounting a major operation for the beatification, as they did for the canonisations in 2002 of the venerated Italian priest Padre Pio and the Spanish priest Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, who founded the powerful Catholic Opus Dei organisation.

 

About 1000 police and a similar number of volunteers will act as marshals at the ceremony, to be shown on eight giant screens with a commentary in six languages, including Albanian.

  

The drops of the nun's blood fall into the "first class" category of relics that can be venerated in accordance with the norms of the Roman Catholic Church.

  

This group includes a part of the body of a saint or blessed person, while a second category covers objects that belonged to them.