Pope Francis declared Mother Teresa a saint on Sunday, honoring the tiny nun for having taken in society's most unwanted and for having shamed world leaders for the "crimes of poverty they themselves created." Francis held up Mother Teresa as the model for a Catholic Church that goes to the peripheries to find poor, wounded souls during a canonization Mass that drew an estimated 120,000 people—rich and poor, powerful and homeless—to a sun-filled St. Peter's Square. "Let us carry her smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along our journey, especially those who suffer," Francis said in his homily, per the AP. The canonization was the highlight of Francis' Holy Year of Mercy and may come to define his entire papacy, which has been dedicated to ministering to society's most marginal, from refugees to prostitutes, the sick, poor, and elderly.
At the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity group that she founded in Kolkata, hundreds of people watching the Mass on TV clapped with joy when Francis declared her a saint. While Francis is clearly keen to hold Mother Teresa up as a model for her joyful dedication to society's outcasts, he is also recognizing holiness in a nun who lived most of her adult life in spiritual agony sensing that God had abandoned her. According to correspondence that came to light after she died in 1997, Mother Teresa experienced what the church calls a "dark night of the soul"—a period of spiritual doubt, despair, and loneliness that many of the great mystics experienced. In Mother Teresa's case, it lasted for nearly 50 years—an almost unheard of trial. In keeping with her spirit, Francis was treating 1,500 homeless people to a pizza lunch in the Vatican auditorium afterward.