VATICAN CITY — Mother Teresa, the nun who devoted her life to the impoverished and one of the Catholic Church's most iconic figures, was canonized as a saint on Sunday.
Saint Teresa of Kolkata, as she is now known, was canonized by Pope Francis in front of about 120,000 faithful at the Vatican.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who died in 1997 and was famed for her work with the poor in India — but fiercely criticized by some — was praised by Francis as a "generous dispenser of divine mercy."
"Her mission to the urban and existential peripheries remains for us today an eloquent witness to God's closeness to the poorest of the poor," the pope said.
"Today, I pass on this emblematic figure of womanhood and of consecrated life to the whole world of volunteers: may she be your model of holiness."
The Vatican handed out 100,000 tickets for the ceremony, but thousands more thronged to the Vatican.
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Jeffrey Korczyk from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was visiting the Vatican for a second time with his wife, Tracey. He said the pair had "lucked out" and that witnessing Teresa's canonization was "a once in a lifetime experience."
"Just how she helped everybody — she was so selfless," Tracey Korczyk said.
Jees Thomas, originally from the Kerala region in India, but now living in Italy, waved a large Indian flag with a group of friends on St. Peter's Square.
"This is a blessed day for me," Thomas, a Roman Catholic, said. "Mother Teresa was in India. She did lots of things — helped everyone."
The Vatican announced Sunday it would give Neapolitan pizza to 1,500 poor and homeless people cared for by Teresa's Missionaries of Charity in the Italian cities of Rome, Milan, Florence, Naples and Bologna to honor the occasion.