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How 'miracle woman' Monica Besra paved the path for Mother Teresa's sainthood

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:48 IST

Nobel Laureate Mother Teresa will be declared a Catholic saint at a canonisation ceremony at the Vatican on 4 September.

Huge crowds flocked to the Vatican to attend the canonisation, which was held on the eve of the 19th death anniversary of the nun - who is fondly remembered for her contribution in the field of humanitarian work.

Teresa died in 1997, after having worked to improve the lives of the poor in Kolkata for nearly four decades. While Mother Teresa touched the lives of countless people during her years of service, many also credit the nun for having had a positive impact on them years after her death.

When Monica Besra, a 50-year-old tribal woman from West Bengal, reported that she had been miraculously cured after praying to Mother Teresa in 1998, little did she know that her report would help pave the path for the nun's canonisation.

Why Monica Besra believes Mother Teresa miraculously cured her

The healing of Besra, who hails from Harimrampur in West Bengal's South Dinjapur or Dakshin Dinajpur district, is believed to be Mother Teresa's first miracle.

Besra lived with a tumour in her abdomen for a long and painful 20 years. No amount of medication or visits to doctors could help her. In order to foot the growing medical bills, her husband - a farmer - mortgaged their land.

Disheartened by the doctors' inability to cure her, the family turned to religion. Besra's sister took her to the Missionaries of Charity centre. "I was so ill I couldn't eat anything. The sisters there even took me to a doctor in Siliguri, but he said I might not regain consciousness if operated upon," remembers the mother of five.

On 4 September 1998, a day before Mother Teresa's first death anniversary, the Sisters took Besra to the church to pray. "There was a photograph of Mother Teresa there. When I entered the Church a blinding light from Mother's photo enveloped me. I didn't know what was happening and returned to my bed at the centre as I was too ill," she told PTI.

Besra recalled that one of the Sisters had given her a medallion of Mother Teresa, which was tied on her abdomen.

"I prayed to Mother for a long time. I used to have trouble sleeping because of the pain, but that night I fell asleep. At about 1 am I woke up and saw that my stomach was flat and the tumour was gone. There was no pain. I was so surprised that I woke up the woman in the next bed and told her what had happened. In the morning I told the Sisters," she said. She was taken to the doctor after that and he confirmed that the tumour was cured. "I immediately felt that it was Mother who had cured me," she said.

In 2003, Besra was taken to Rome, where she met Pope John Paul II and his cardinals and narrated her experience. The healing was recognised as Mother Teresa's first miracle and led to the nun's beatification later that year.

Besra's miracle was followed by yet another instance of miraculous healing in 2008, when a Brazillian man claimed he had been cured of multiple brain tumours due to Mother Teresa's intervention.

--With agency inputs

First published: 4 September 2016, 1:13 IST