A leading Italian Catholic newspaper says Pope Francis has signed off on the miracle needed to make Mother Teresa a saint.

Avennire, the newspaper affiliated with the Italian bishops' conference, said on its website that Francis approved the miracle during an audience Thursday afternoon, his 79th birthday.

Italian media have speculated that Francis will canonize Mother Teresa the first week of September, during his Holy Year of Mercy.

Avennire says the miracle concerned the inexplicable cure in 2008 of a man in Brazil with multiple brain abscesses who, within a day of being in a coma, was cured. The Vatican ascertained that his wife's prayers for Mother Teresa's intercession were responsible.