linkAn Indian woman whose "miracle" cure from cancer was instrumental in the beatification of Mother Teresa of Calcutta has accused the Sisters of Charity of abandoning her to a life of penury.
The complaint of Monica Besra, 40, struck a sour note during commemorations of the 10th anniversary of Mother Teresa's death, as hundreds of faithful gathered in Calcutta for candle-lit processions and an inter-faith prayer vigil.
Mrs Besra became an overnight celebrity in September 1998 when she reported that she had been cured of a tumour after praying to Mother Teresa while pressing a medallion bearing the nun's image to her side.
The "miracle" was claimed as Mother Teresa's first posthumous act of healing – she died in 1997 – and was cited at a ceremony in October 2003 in which the Albanian-born nun was beatified by the Vatican.
However more than a decade later, Mrs Besra says she has been abandoned by the nuns who escorted her to Rome four years ago as living proof of their Mother Superior's healing powers.
"My hut was frequented by nuns of the Missionaries of Charity before the beatification of Mother Teresa," said Mrs Besra, squatting on the floor of her thatched and mud house in the village of Dangram, 460 miles northeast of Calcutta.
"They made of lot of promises to me and assured me of financial help for my livelihood and my children's education.
"After that, they forgot me. I am living in penury. My husband is sick. My children have stopped going to school as I have no money. I have to work in the fields to feed my husband and five children."
At Mother House, the global headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity which now has more than 750 homes for the destitute around the world, news of Mrs Besra's complaints was greeted with concern.
Sister Nirmala, Mother Teresa's successor as superior-general, said her case was being looked at.
"Monica Besra herself says she was cured by Mother's miracle. Nuns of the Charity are in touch with Besra. I talked to her over telephone this morning," she said.
"She is upset after her daughter flunked the school-leaving examination this year. We know she is having hard times. We are trying to do our best for her."