Each 5 September marks the celebration of Saint Teresa Sanctification Day in Albania. Mother Teresa officially became “Saint Teresa of Kolkata” on 5 September 2016, which was 19 years to the day after her passing in 1997.
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Saint Teresa Sanctification Day is considered a public holiday. It is a highly significant event for the people of Albania, and one that is taken seriously during the celebration.
Born in Skopje, Macedonia, in 1910, Mother Teresa’s given name was Agnese Gonxhe Bojaxhiu. When she initially said her vows as a nun, she chose to go by Teresa after the patron saint of missionaries, Therese de Lisieux. Mother Teresa held Indian citizenship and founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta in 1950. For almost 50 years she ministered to the dying, orphaned, sick, and poor in India and also in other countries.
Often referred to as a living saint, Mother Teresa spent her life caring for impoverished people in India. In 1979 she received the Nobel Prize and used this opportunity to help educate the public on the problems that poor people face. In Calcutta, two years after her death, the process to name Mother Teresa as a saint began. On October 19, 2003, she was officially beatified, making her Blessed Teresa. This was followed by official sainthood status in 2016.
Albanians do not work on this day. While Albania does not have an official religion and considers all religions equal, the people are proud of the legacy that Saint Teresa left as a Catholic nun. On this day, many Albanians attend mass to celebrate Saint Teresa’s memory. They also pray novenas asking for help from the Saint for their problems or causes.