09/04/2007, 00.00
INDIA
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The Tomb of Mother Teresa, a place of life and of peace

Ten years on from her death, a pilgrimage to the Home of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, where people of all religions, rich and poor, sick and healthy, gather to pray. The Archbishop of the city: Benedict XVI made her a symbol of universal Christian love.

Kolkata (AsiaNews) – A sense of peace and calmness descends on one, as you enter the portals of Mother House on Chandra Bose Road, where Mother Teresa lived and died.  On the door outside the Mother’s home, the nameplate reads that ‘Mother Teresa, MC’ is now permanently ‘IN’. 

What instantly strikes one is the sounds of daily chores being done, the voices of sisters – filling buckets of water from the tap near the grotto, or putting the dust covers over the fan, and tenderly enquiring after the nun whose toe was bandaged – putting the visitor at ease.

The very simplicity of normal life accompanies you to the Tomb of Mother Teresa, in a refectory that was converted to a chapel, where Holy Mass is celebrated each day. The tomb of Mother, in the chapel is open- as her life was- for everyone, healthy and ill, rich and poor, peoples of all religions, who gather to this place of pilgrimage, to ask for grace and receive strength.

A sense of calm and peace soothes the restless soul, in a place that is very much in the heart of the busy city of Calcutta.  The novices in white cotton saris on their knees above the Tomb kneel down to Pray Vespers- almost simultaneously with the Moslem call to pray the muezzin – undisturbed by the breaking trams and the voices of the people on the streets.

The little room where Mother lived and she died on September 5, 1997 remains as it was, intact. Through a grill, an iron cot with a thin mattress, a plain writing desk, a cupboard, a chair, a `meeting' table with two stools. The simple chair and study table, and her other humble belongings are all there, intact.   On one side of her bed hung a picture of Jesus — Jesus not at peace but dying in agony, wearing a crown of thorns, blood trickling down his head.

One of the sisters took me through a small museum, where a number of personal objects testifying to the simplicity of Mother Teresa’s life were on display: the sari Mother Teresa had last worn, neatly darned in several places. her sandals, roughly stitched and repaired, a testimony to her enduring frugality. There were a number of her own notes written in her strong writing.  None of her hundreds of awards was on display- the Nobel Peace Prize, the Bharat Ratna, the Padma Shri citations……,

Sr Nirmala Joshi, succeeded Mother Teresa as Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, with meekness, nobility, strength and decision.

Archbishop Lucas Sirkar, underlines the value of Mother Teresa’s universal testimony : “Pope Benedict XVI made 3 references to Mother Teresa in his first encyclical Deus Caritas Est- he tells AsiaNews – demonstrating the universality of Christian love.  The Blessed showed her love for God through her love for the poor.  She always said that what today’s world needs most is love and that the lack of love is our worlds greatest poverty.  Loving God and our neighbour is fundamental for our times: only this can save our families, society, our nation and the entire world” (NC).

 

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