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Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK
Vatican approves Mother Teresa 'miracle'
Mother Teresa at Christmas in Calcutta in 1996.
Mother Teresa died in 1997
Vatican officials have approved a "miracle" attributed to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, moving the world-famous nun, who died in 1997, closer to sainthood.

Vatican sources say the miracle was examined in a closed-door meeting between doctors and officials from the Catholic Church's Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

In the case before the committee, a 30-year-old Indian woman, Monica Besra, was allegedly healed of stomach cancer after praying to the nun.

Hundreds of other alleged miracles have also been reported.

Pope John Paul II with Mother Teresa in 1979
The Pope accelerated Mother Teresa's sainthood process

Officials declared the incident scientifically inexplicable, and if the Pope signs a decree approving the miracle, Mother Teresa could be beatified next year.

After the beatification ceremony, another miracle must be approved before Mother Teresa officially becomes a saint.

Normally, five years must pass after a person dies before the Catholic Church can begin proceedings to declare the deceased a saint.

But the Pope allowed the procedure for Mother Teresa to begin in 1999, just two years after the Nobel-Prize-winning nun died at the age of 87.

The Vatican's saint-making Congregation for the Causes of Saints has been conducting an investigation into her life, and supporters have filed reams of documents.

Born in Skopje, in what is now the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, to Albanian parents, Mother Teresa founded her order in Calcutta, India, in 1950.

Her followers in the Missionaries of Charity still work with the poor around the world.

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The BBC's Mark Duff
"The move means that Mother Teresa could soon be beatified"
See also:

12 Aug 02 | South Asia
06 Sep 01 | South Asia
21 Sep 00 | South Asia
27 Jul 99 | South Asia
03 Sep 98 | South Asia
22 Jul 98 | South Asia
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