Tens of thousands of people gathered to watch Mother Teresa declared a saint on Sunday in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, with tens of millions more watching the ceremony on television around the world. Now, tourism authorities in the Indian state of West Bengal – where she lived most of her life – are planning to create itineraries for religious visitors to help them follow in the footsteps of the Catholic Church’s newest saint.
Suggested itineraries of locations closely associated with Mother Teresa will be developed for visitors with information signs and “beautification” of the locations that were closest to her heart. The list of sites will also be added to the local tourism website, with plans for the project to be completed by next March.
West Bengal said thousands of tourists from around India and abroad already visit locations in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) associated with Mother Teresa, but numbers are likely to rise after the weekend’s canonisation. They are planning to put together a trail of forty places in Kolkata that have close links with the Skopje-born nun, and her work helping the poor. Among the places that they will be suggesting for a visit include Mother House, where the Catholic nun first lived on arrival in India.
Her tomb is located there along with some relics of her life, including her sandals and the dinner bowl from which she ate. She was buried there in September 1997 and her resting place has, according to her religious order, “become a place of pilgrimage and quiet meditation to people of all creeds”.
The small museum on site also has on display hand-written letters, her sari, and the crucifix that she wore throughout her life. One new site for pilgrims is a life-sized statue of Mother Teresa, which was only unveiled in Kolkata at the end of August ahead of the canonisation ceremony. Other locations important to her life include the convent on Kolkata’s Elliot Road, the Loreto Convent Entally, and the Loreto Convent in Darjeeling where she also spent time.