Mumbai/Palghar: Thousands of Christians, many with tears of joy in their eyes, witnessed a solemn ceremony in which the Blessed Mother Teresa Church in Virar was rechristened as ‘Saint Mother Teresa Church’ here on Sunday evening.

The special mass was celebrated by the Archbishop of Vasai Diocese in Palghar district, around 60 km north of Mumbai in the presence of more than 5,000 Christians from the Diocese, Mumbai, Kolkata and other parts of the country.

The mass was preceded by a solemn procession taken out to the church as people recalled Mother Teresa’s only visit to the Vasai Diocese in April 1986 for a couple of functions.

Considered the only church to be named after Mother Teresa, the church also possesses a drop of her blood, as a relic enshrined in a glass case and houses a full-size one tonne Makrana marble statue.

All the Christian areas in Vasai Diocese were illuminated with lights and candles and decorated to mark the momentous occasion coinciding with Pope Francis’ proclamation elevating Mother Teresa to Saint.

Secretary to the Archbishop, Fr. Richard Dabre said that the Vasai Diocese had earlier been blessed with a visit by Pope John Paul II on February 9, 1986.

Of the other Christian saints from India, St. Gonsalo Garcia hailed from Vasai region while St. Joseph Vaz was from Goa, while three others – St. Alphonsa, St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara and St. Euprasia Elavuthingal – hailed from Kerala.

A devotee of St Teresa and numismatist Pascal Lopes from Vasai put up a special half-day exhibition of his collection of over 100 stamps and 15 coins on Mother Teresa issued around the world at St. Peters Church in Bandra.

The Indian Posts released a special commemorative stamp on St Teresa to mark her canonisation at a function in Divine Child High School in Andheri.

Hundreds of churches in the state held special prayers or masses to celebrate the canonisation ceremony-IANS

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