.- Relics of Blessed Mother Teresa are scheduled to visit several cities across the Midwest this weekend, as part of a tour of the United States and Canada. The tour is being held in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the sister's birth on August 26.
The relics are in the care of the Missionaries of Charity, the religious order founded by Mother Teresa, and include her sandals, crucifix and rosary, as well as a lock of her hair and drops of her blood contained in reliquaries.
The tour has already traveled through Boston and Baltimore, among other cities, and is scheduled to make stops in Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota in the coming days.
On Friday, the relics will arrive in Peoria, Illinois. They will be enshrined during a noon Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral, which will be celebrated by Bishop Daniel Jenky.
According to The Catholic Post, newspaper for the Diocese of Peoria, the visit is a “surprise stop” that diocesan officials only learned about “earlier this week.”
While alive, Mother Teresa had visited the Diocese of Peoria in 1995 and again in 1960. The Missionaries of Charity first came to serve Peoria's poor in 1991, when Mother Teresa sent the first Sisters to the cathedral soup kitchen, The Catholic Post reported.
On Saturday morning, the relics will be transported to the Diocese of Gary, Indiana.
Deacon Mark Plaiss, director of communications for the diocese, told CNA that a Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Dale Melczek at 9:30 a.m. at St. Mark's Church.
In the afternoon, the relics will be taken from Gary to Chicago, a city that Mother Teresa visited on several occasions during her life.
The schedule indicates that the relics will stop at St. Procopius parish for Mass and veneration on Saturday evening. The next morning, they will be transported to St. John Cantius parish, where they will be available for veneration after every Mass. Later in the day, they will be taken to the convent for the Missionaries of Charity in Chicago.
As the weekend comes to a close, the relics will travel to St. Paul, Minnesota. They will be venerated at the Cathedral of St. Paul on Monday evening, followed by a Mass celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché.
Commenting on the visit to St. Paul was the cathedral's rector, Fr. Joseph Johnson, who said, “If you ask Mother Teresa what guided her life, she would say prayer first and hard work second. We will be seeing the very items which supported those goals – her rosary which she used in daily prayer, and her sandals which carried her little feet as she ministered to the poorest of the poor.”
The tour of the relics will continue throughout the rest of the month. Exact locations for stops along the way have not yet been announced.
Born in Albania on Aug. 26, 1910, Mother Teresa spent decades serving the poor and sick in Calcutta, India. She founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950, and the order continues to carry on her work throughout the world today.
As the order grew, Mother Teresa's work came to be well-known and recognized across the globe, and in 1979, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
The cause for her canonization began shortly after her death in 1997. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003.