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Nuns have copyrighted Mother Theresa’s famous sari

The famous white sari with three blue borders worn by saint Mother Teresa has been copyrighted by nuns, and one of the Vatican's top cardinals is not pleased.

Nuns have copyrighted Mother Theresa's famous sari
The head of the Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity, sister Mary Eliza (R) flanked by Catholic nuns in 2011. Photo: AFP

“Holy Mother Teresa of Calcutta is a universal symbol, beloved by believers (and) unbelievers,” said Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, 85, an ex-prefect of the powerful Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

“It is absurd that taxes will now have to be paid on her sari. It's the first time I have heard anything like it,” he was quoted as saying by the online version of the Italian weekly Panorama, which hits shop shelves on Thursday.

READ ALSO: Catholic icon Mother Theresa proclaimed a saint in Rome

The sari was reportedly recognized as an Intellectual Property of the Missionaries of Charity by the trademarks registry in India on the day the revered Catholic nun was raised to sainthood in September last year.

It means those using images of the sari – in anything from books and films to calendars – will have to pay.

“It certainly does not honour the saint's memory,” Saraiva Martins said.

Panorama added that the news had upset many at the Vatican to the point that Pope Francis may be moved to speak out.

The white sari, now worn by nuns belonging to the Missionaries of Charity throughout the world, is a symbol of purity, while the three blue borders represent poverty, chastity and obedience.

Mother Teresa won the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize and was revered around the world as a beacon for the Christian values of self-sacrifice and charity.

She spent all her adult life in India, first teaching, then tending to the dying poor for decades before her death in 1997 at the age of 87.

READ ALSO: Meeting the Italian tailor making robes for the stars of the Church

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WOMEN

Pope appoints French woman to senior synod post

Pope Francis has broken with Catholic tradition to appoint a woman as an undersecretary of the synod of bishops, the first to hold the post with voting rights in a body that studies major questions of doctrine.

Pope appoints French woman to senior synod post
Pope Francis has appointed Nathalie Becquart as undersecretary of the synod of bishops. She is the first woman to hold the post. Photo: AFP

Frenchwoman Nathalie Becquart is one of the two new undersecretaries named on Saturday to the synod, where she has been a consultant since 2019.

The appointment signals the pontiff's desire “for a greater participation of women in the process of discernment and decision-making in the church”, said Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary-general of the synod.

“During the previous synods, the number of women participating as experts and listeners has increased,” he said.

“With the nomination of Sister Nathalie Becquart and her possibility of participating in voting, a door has opened.”

The synod is led by bishops and cardinals who have voting rights and also comprises experts who cannot vote, with the next gathering scheduled for autumn 2022.

A special synod on the Amazon in 2019 saw 35 female “auditors” invited to the assembly, but none could vote.

The Argentinian-born pope has signalled his wish to reform the synod and have women and laypeople play a greater role in the church.

He named Spaniard Luis Marin de San Martin as the other under undersecretary in the synod of bishops.

Becquart, 52, a member of the France-based Xaviere Sisters, has a master's degree in management from the prestigious HEC business school in Paris and studied in Boston before joining the order.

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