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U.S. bishops vote to put Mother Teresa on liturgical calendar

Mother Teresa

DeepGreen | SHUTTERSTOCK

Philip Kosloski - published on 11/21/21

The bishops of the United States voted to make September 5 an optional memorial in honor of St. Teresa of Calcutta.

During the USCCB’s annual assembly last week, the bishops voted 213-0, with one abstention, to make September 5 on the liturgical calendar an optional memorial in honor of St. Teresa of Calcutta.

This would make it possible for priests within the United States to offer a Mass in memory of Mother Teresa on September 5, which is the yearly anniversary of her death.

According to the Arlington Catholic Herald, “Committee policy, established in 1992, requires four conditions for the inscription of saints and blesseds on the U.S. calendar: They should have been inscribed on diocesan proper calendars for at least five years; the ‘cultus’ of the candidate ‘should exist in a significant number of dioceses, broader than the area or region of the country’; the candidate should have served in the United States; and a new inscription would ordinarily have the rank of an optional memorial.”

When saints are officially canonized, very few of them are placed on what is called the “General Calendar,” which is used by the entire Roman Rite of the Catholic Church around the world. Typically saints are only celebrated in their home country, unless their “cult” (devotion to them and prayers for their intercession) is widespread throughout the world.

St. John Paul II is a similar example, as his feast day of October 22 was added by the United States bishops in 2012. Before then, it was only a feast celebrated in such places as Rome or Poland. Other groups of local bishops have to vote to add it to their calendar as well.

This also means that feast days and saints are celebrated differently in other places of the world.

For example, in Malta the Church celebrates the Shipwreck of St. Paul in Malta on February 1o as a holy day of obligation and Ireland celebrates (not surprisingly) the feast of St. Patrick as a holy day.

This practice recognizes the local “cult” of saints, rather than imposing various saints on the General Calendar. Sometimes saints are known universally around the world, which is why they are celebrated everywhere. However, often saints are only known locally, which is why they remain only on the local calendar.

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