As an estimated 250,000 admirers of the nun packed St Peter's Square in the Vatican on Sunday, the pope put Mother Teresa on the fast track to sainthood.

"With our apostolic authority, we grant that the venerable servant of God, Teresa of Calcutta, shall from now on be called Blessed," the pointiff declared.

Choirs burst into song and the crowd cheered and waved in celebration. They had waited patiently and travelled long distances for the moment.

Earlier, all roads literally led to Rome as a sea of pilgrims, tourists and well-wishers made their way to the Vatican for the beatification.

Calcuttans offered their tribute to
the Mother

Mother's abode

Several oceans apart, Calcutta, the Indian city where the nun lived and worked, was awash as well — with a mix of excitement and nostalgia for the missionary who died in 1997 after a lifetime spent in serving the poor.

Thousands of grateful Calcuttans lined up the road outside the Mother's House, the ordinary building serving as the global headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity that Mother Teresa founded.

The occasion was truly remarkable – the Mother was on her road to sainthood- and the world found itself united in admiration for a nun who embraced the downtrodden.

Be it in Vatican or in Calcutta, admirers recalled the nun with a wrinkled face, but with a child's smile.

 

Admiration

Though Mother Teresa had never hidden her Christian inspiration, the nun won respect from Hindus, Muslims and other non-Catholics around the world.

Pilgrims from all continents converged on the Vatican to pay homage to Mother Teresa.

Many have borrowed money to be in the Vatican for witnessing history.

The poor of Calcutta revere Mother
Teresa

Hundreds of nuns from the Missionaries of Charity, dressed in their trademark blue-bordered white sarees, were present.

Miracle

Also present in the sea of humanity was Monica Besra, a young Indian woman whose stomach cancer was supposedly cured by Mother Teresa.

The Vatican has accepted the cure as a miracle – an essential pre-requisite for being beatified - but it has triggered a controversy too.

Rationalists have taken to the streets in India and elsewhere, saying the claim of a miracle was a hoax.

But nothing diminished the significance of the day. 

An extraordinary woman who lived an extraordinarily selfless life was on her way to sainthood and the world rightly stood up in collective respect.