Albania awaits Mother Teresa’s canonization

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“By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.” The famous saying by Mother Teresa best portrays the nun of Albanian origin, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, who dedicated her whole life to helping the poor and will be declared a saint by Pope Frances at canonization Mass in Vatican on Sept. 4.

Some of Albania’s and Kosovo best internationally renowned artists and sports figures will perform in a concert on Sept. 3 St. Peter’s Basilica.

Pop star Rita Ora, internationally renowned sopranos Ermonela Jaho and Inva Mula, captain Lorik Cana who led Albania to a first-ever appearance at a major football competition and Kosovo judoka, a gold medalist at the Rio Olympics, will perform in the concert paying tribute to the world famous nun of Albanian origin.

Soprano Inva Mula will star at the premiere of “The Mother of pain,” a hymn composed by Albanian composer David Tukici, dedicated to Mother Teresa.

Thousands of people are expected to gather at Tirana’s Mother Teresa square where the canonization Mass will be aired through giant monitors. An open air opera concert with some of the country’s best opera singers will accompany visitors.

The coastal city of Durres will also honor Mother Teresa with the inauguration of the Museum of Dialogue dedicated to Mother Teresa’s life.

“Mother Teresa’s canonization has a multiple national meaning, to get to know our real tradition of hospitality, generosity and altruism. It remains a special day because it will serve to awaken, preserve and cultivate the values of the Albanian identity, to get to know, love and bring Mother Teresa closer to our everyday life,” says the Culture Ministry.

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Father Angelo Massafra, the archbishop of Shkodrë-Pult Archdiocese in northern Albania, described Mother Teresa’s canonization as a very important event for the Albanian Catholic Church and the whole of the Albanian nation.

“Mother Teresa was the mother of those who suffered and had been abandoned, the poorest of the poor. Mother Teresa is present even today with her sisters and brothers not only in nations inhabited by Christians and Catholics but also in countries where there is no Catholic at all, but there are needy people. This is the special thing about this saint who despite her religious affiliation, looked after people in need,” Father Massafra told VoA in the local Albanian service.

“It was not a coincidence that our nation was selected by Pope Francis as his first European destination,” he added.

Pope Francis visited Albania on Sept. 21, 2014 to promote the country as an example to the world that religious harmony works. He was the second pope to visit Albania after Pope Jean Paul II’s visit in the early 1990s soon after the collapse of communist regime which banned religion.

Masafra, who also chairs the Albanian Bishops Conference, says the Catholic Church has asked the Albanian authorities to switch the celebration of the Mother Teresa national holiday from October 19, the day she was beautified, to Sept. 4, the day of canonization.

Mother Teresa is known for her work with the poor in Calcutta, India, and won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Pope John Paul II beatified her in 2003, putting her on a path to sainthood.

Mother Teresa was born in Skopje as Agnes Gonxhe Bojaxhiu in 1910. She was born to parents who had moved to Skopje from Kosovo.

Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation. She was the recipient of numerous honors, including the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize.

She was banned from visiting family members in Albania by the country’s then brutal atheist communist regime, but she did visit as the regime fell and Albanians have commemorated her life and work ever since.

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