Pope John Paul II brought Mother Teresa closer to sainthood on Friday when he approved a miracle attributed to the nun who dedicated her life to the poor.

The Vatican said the nun's work in the past century had made her a "world emblem of Christian charity" and that a "vast movement" in support of society's most marginalized was inspired by her example

The miracle allows a beatification ceremony, expected next spring. A second miracle would make Mother Teresa eligible for sainthood.

As a sign of admiration for Mother Teresa's dedication to the destitute, the pope waived the customary five-year waiting period to begin procedures that can lead to canonization. Mother Teresa died in 1997 at the age of 87.

The miracle attributed to her involves a young Indian woman with a stomach tumor who recovered after a picture of Mother Teresa was placed on her abdomen.

It was endorsed by a Vatican committee in the fall and formally approved by the pope Friday in a solemn ceremony in the Apostolic Palace.

Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on Aug. 26, 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia. In 1949, she founded the Missionaries of Charity in India.

Tiny and frail, she cared for Calcutta's impoverished and sick, toiling daily and for long hours even when she was elderly and ailing herself. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Her order has opened places to provide comfort and care for the needy.

John Paul has stressed saint-making in his papacy as a way of giving the faithful models of Catholics whose lives reflect their beliefs in goodness and courage.

The pope has elevated more than 460 people to sainthood in his 24 years as pope.