To many Albanians, 2016 will remain forever the year in which Mother Teresa became a saint. The diminutive Albanian nun, a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace and the US Medal of Freedom, is also a national symbol for Albania, Kosova and Albanians everywhere.
Thousands of Albanian-Americans traveled to Vatican this year (the photo above is courtesy of Beqir Sina) to attend the grand canonization ceremony in St. Peter Square. Many of them had had the chance to meet Mother Teresa in person during her visits to the United States, where she opened a branch of her Mission.
Born as Bonxhe Bojaxhi, to an Albanian catholic family, in today’s Macedonia, she left before the age of 18 to become a nun. Most of her activity took place in India, where she founded her global mission. She dedicated her life to the poor and the marginalized.
She had her doubters and critics, but remained a major inspiring example to the world.
Her fame spelled trouble for her relatives in Albania, where the communist regime had banned religion and was wary of the outside world, especially of the West. Only when in the last days of the regime, she was allowed a private visit with minimal media coverage.
She never forgot her Albanian roots and was greeted with enthusiasm after the collapse of communism. In 1993, she accompanied Pope John II during the first ever papal visit in history, for the small Balkan nation.
Mother Teresa passed away in 1997, in Calcutta, India. An effort by Albania to repatriate her post-mortem was rejected.
Now recognized by the Catholic world as St.Teresa of Calcutta, she remains an important and essential part of the Albanian multi-religious national identity. On this November 28th, we honor her glorious name and immense work. (r.a.)