Today, 19 years after her death, Pope Francis officially declared the Albanian Mother Teresa a saint as many remember when she visited The Bronx.
On one of those occasions, Saint Teresa of Kolkata, as she is now known, was visited by her friend, Princess Diana of Wales who flew in from DC just to meet up with her at the Missionaries of Charity’s order on 145th Street in Mott Haven—the first in North America of the order which she founded in 1950.
Little would anyone guess that 6 weeks later, both friends would pass away just days apart from each other.
Saint Teresa isn’t without controversy, many have criticized her rapid ascension into the pantheon of Roman Catholic saints, a process which usually would take well over a century after someone’s passing.
Calcutta in India, as Kolkata was once known, became somewhat of a stereotype much like The Bronx thanks in part to the media narrative focusing solely on both’s poverty.
In a recent article by NBC News, they write:
A 1994 study by the UK-based The Lancet medical journal reported that even the most basic, life-saving drugs were not administered to salvageable patients who should have been admitted to a hospital rather than Mother Teresa’s famous home for the dying.
For a 2003 study, researchers at the University of Montreal and University of Ottawa examined nearly 300 documents belonging to the elderly nun.
The report noted “her rather dubious way of caring for the sick, questionable political contacts, her suspicious management of the enormous sums of money she received, and her overly dogmatic views regarding, in particular, abortion, contraception, and divorce.”
But Hitchens’ concerns and those of others will no doubt be drowned out by the joy of hundreds of thousands who are expected to attend Sunday’s Mass to pay tribute to her.
Even with such controversies, one can’t discount that her presence brought much needed attention to the plight of the poor not just in her adopted country of India, but across the globe and right in our backyard in The Bronx.
My own mother met Mother Teresa on two of the saint’s visit to The Bronx and on one of those occasions, she received a rosary given to her by Mother Teresa.
For many, especially our Albanian residents, today is a day of celebration regardless of how Mother Teresa, the once named Living Saint, is viewed.