Some observers have said that the recently canonized Albanian nun, as Mother Superior of the Order she had founded to care for people dying in the streets of Calcutta, was an autocrat.  She forbade, for example, her young Sisters to quench their thirst with cool fruit juice as they ministered to the dying in the sweltering heat.  (I grew up believing in the salvific value of not eating candy during Lent.  Catholics call it “mortification”.)  Her opposition to abortion and contraception led Christopher Hitchens to be her fiercest critic.  But others had to wonder about her “consolation” of beggars, suffering terribly in their final hours, who were told that their pain was a “kiss from Jesus”, which led one of them to say to Teresa : “Well then tell Him to stop kissing me !”

THOM  has offered us a short Reflection on this unique contemporary Saint.  Like everything he writes, in particular his frequent, insightful comments throughout the history of our Blog, it is both eloquent and balanced :

“I don’t know all that much about Agnes.  Leave aside (for the nonce) her reputed miracles (and oh so recent) elevation to ‘sainthood’.  I think History will judge her much less harshly than Hitch did.  The criticisms being mentioned here (in Australia) are (1) the unhygienic state of her refuges, (2) her acceptance of significant donations from crooks, and (3) her proselytizing among those in her care.  All pretty lame, really – and arguably understandable.  She made a significant statement by her life about the dignity of even the most abandoned and marginalized in the community.  She should be applauded for that alone.  O.K., she was not perfect, but the world would be a better place if there were more people prepared to do something similar.  Saint or not, she has made her mark on History.”

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