In Skopje, residents proud of native Mother Teresa canonization

Fri Sep 2, 2016 2:23pm EDT
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SKOPJE (Reuters) - When Mother Teresa is made an official saint of the Roman Catholic Church on Sunday, one city will be particularly proud of its famous native, Skopje.

On the streets of the Macedonian capital, stalls sell postcards and memorabilia with the nun's picture while visitors take in sites dedicated to the Nobel peace prize winner such as a memorial museum and statues.

Of Albanian parents, Mother Teresa was born Gonxha Agnes Bojaxhiu in Skopje, in what was then part of the Ottoman empire and is now Macedonia, on August 26, 1910.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected at Sunday's canonization service led by Pope Francis in front of St Peter's basilica, which will also to be attended by Macedonian government officials.

"I think the whole world respects her," Skopje resident Milorad Ciric said. "She really did great work for the poor and helped as much as she could."

In Skopje, masses and other celebratory events will be held in honor of her canonization.

Mother Teresa, who died in 1997, became a nun at the age of 16. She moved to Kolkata, then called Calcutta, in India in 1929 and established her mission in 1950, working to help the destitute.

While she has also has her critics, Mother Teresa is revered by Catholics for her work to help the poor, and was affectionately called the "saint of the gutters".

"She was a woman whose huge contribution cannot be described in words," another Skopje resident, Sotjmen Nasteski, said. "She taught us modesty, humanity."

(Reporting by Reuters Television; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Louise Ireland)

A tapestry picturing Mother Teresa hangs from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, September 1, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini