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Mother Teresa nuns converge on Rome for beatification

Running out of convent space, members of Mother Teresa's order have set up tents for hundreds of their fellow nuns pouring into Rome this week to join Pope John Paul II in the beatification ceremony.

About 445 Missionaries of Charity nuns from all corners of the world are expected join hundreds of thousands of Mother Teresa's admirers at the ceremony in St Peter's Square, according to Sr Nirmala, Mother Teresa's successor as leader of the congregation.

The nuns asked Civil Defence officials to lend them tents usually used to shelter those made homeless by such disasters as floods and earthquakes. One bright yellow tent has been turned into a makeshift chapel because all the visiting nuns can't fit into the small, simple chapel on convent grounds.

The nuns will have a special audience with the Holy Father the day after the ceremony.

"We'd like to thank him and congratulate him for his 25 years of his wonderful pontificate," Sr Nirmala said, referring to the Silver Jubilee celebrations this week.

By the time of her death, Mother Teresa, with seemingly boundless energy and unlimited attention for the poor, had established 594 centres to nurse and comfort the sick and dying around the world.

"We have entered 10 new countries," said Sister Nirmala. Pulling some folded pieces of paper out of her pocket, she read out the places, including Kazakhstan, Israel, Finland and New Zealand.

Sister Nirmala, 69, said she was "struck by her eyes" when she first met Mother Teresa about a half-century ago. Mother Teresa's eyes "were not of a person of this Earth, she belonged to heaven," said the nun, who earlier this year was elected to a second six-year-term as superior general.

Daily Telegraph/AP

The Debate Over Sainthood (CBS)
Nun's blood to pope (
200,000 expected for Mother Teresa's beatification (Catholic World News)
Nuns gather Mother Teresa's 'relics' (2/10/03)
Beatification Mother Teresa of Calcutta 19 October 2003 (Vatican website)
Mother Teresa of Calcutta - Official site of the Cause of Canonisation

15 Oct 2003