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Mother Teresa's canonisation: Albania, Macedonia both claim her as their own

Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in 1910 to an Albanian mother in Macedonia's current capital Skopje. Photograph: (Getty)

WION Skopje, Macedonia Sep 03, 2016, 12.56 PM (IST)
As Mother Teresa receives sainthood tomorrow, two Balkan countries will be celebrating the canonisation of a woman they both claim as their own

Albania and Macedonia, both have statues, memorials, hospitals and other monuments in her name.

Albania observes Mother Teresa Day on October 19, a public holiday on the anniversary of Mother Teresa's beatification. Teresa's birth-town, Skopje, is home to the Mother Teresa Memorial House, built on the location of the once Sacred Heart of Jesus Roman Catholic Church, where she was baptized.

Mother Teresa Memorial House in Skopje.

"Mother Teresa was born in Skopje, but she never declared herself a Macedonian," said Albanian historian Moikom Zeqo, author of a study on the nun's links to Albania.

She "always spoke about her Albanian origins and her universal mission," Zeqo told AFP. Macedonians, however, suggest her birthplace is all important.

"We call her 'Skopjanka' (citizen of Skopje) because we know she is ours," said Valentina Bozinovska, director of the national commission for relations with religious communities.

Macedonian government officials are expected to attend Sunday's canonisation service led by Pope Francis in front of St Peter's Basilica. In Skopje, celebratory events will be held in honour of her canonisation.

Youngest of the three children, Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in 1910 in Macedonia's current capital Skopje. She had an Albanian mother who's family was from Kosovo. Teresa was baptised Roman Catholic, a minority religion in Skopje, decided early on she would take up a religious life.

She left her home aged 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland. She travelled to Darjeeling in India a year later in 1929 and took her vows as a Sister of Loretto in 1931.

She obtained permission from the Vatican to leave the Sisters of Loretto in 1948 and devoted herself to working among the poor under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Calcutta (now Kolkatta).

Teresa received a Nobel Prize in 1979 for her humanitarian work.

(WION with inputs from agencies)
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