New Delhi: When Pope Francis canonizes Mother Teresa on September 4, the Indian Church will have its sixth saint in its 2,000-year-old history.
Five of the saints came within the last eight years, ending a drought of Catholic holy men in a land where Christianity took roots in the apostolic times.
The first saint from India was a Eurasian, Franciscan Brother Gonsalo Garcia from Vasai, a suburb of Mumbai. He was among 26 Catholics martyred in Japan in 1597. They were canonized in 1862.
The next Indian saint took 146 years in coming. Alphonsa, a Franciscan Clarist nun who died in 1946 aged 36 at Bharananganam in Kerala, became the country’s first woman saint when Pope Benedict XVI canonized her in 2008.
Six years later, in 2014, Pope Francis canonized two saints, also from Kerala, Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Euphrasia Eluvathingal.
Canonization of Indians seems to have become an annual affair now. In 2015, Pope Francis declared Joseph Vaz, a priest from Goa, as a saint in Colombo. The 17th-century Oratorian priest is known as the Apostle of Sri Lanka.
Mother Teresa’s canonization is set for September 4, 2016.