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March 15, 2016

Mother Teresa to be made a saint in September, Vatican announces

Nun was known worldwide for her work on behalf of 'the poorest of the poor'

Mother Teresa, winner of a Nobel Peace Prize for her work serving "the poorest of the poor," will be named a saint on Sept. 4, the Vatican announced on Tuesday.

The Albanian nun was best known for her charitable work in the poorest sections of Kolkata, India. Adept at engaging the media for her cause, she became a global icon, raised hundreds of millions of dollars and helped turn the world's attention to "the plight of children and refugees," the Nobel Committee wrote in 1979.

The Missionaries of Charity, a sisterhood she founded in 1950, now has 4,500 nuns serving poor communities worldwide, according to the BBC.

Related story: Saint Junipero Serra — a halo stained with blood?

However, not everyone thinks that Teresa was a saint. Atheist writer Christopher Hitchens co-wrote a scathing documentary about her called "Hell's Angel" in 1994, criticizing conditions at her facilities and her relationship with notorious figures like Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier. A Canadian study from 2013 accused her of mismanaging funds and criticized her hospice missions for having "a significant lack of hygiene, even unfit conditions, as well as a shortage of actual care, inadequate food, and no painkillers" for people who were dying.

Nevertheless, the Vatican has moved through the canonization process remarkably swiftly. Mother Teresa died in 1997; to give you an idea of how long it can take to declare someone a saint, consider that Pope Francis also just announced the canonization of Stanislaus of Jesus and Mary — who died in 1701.