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Kosovo consecrates cathedral to St Teresa of Calcutta

St Teresa of Calcutta (CNS)

The Catholic cathedral in Kosovo’s capital has been consecrated to the saint formerly known as Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and religious leaders from Kosovo and Albania were among the hundreds of people in Pristina who attended a consecration ceremony on Tuesday for the landmark, now named St Teresa Cathedral.

The Italian-style cathedral with two 70-meter (230-foot) towers opened in 2010. Local Catholics had long hoped it would bear the name of the nun who dedicated her life to society’s outcasts.

The Cathedral of St Teresa of Calcutta, Pristina, Kosovo (Wikimedia Commons)

It will now house a new office for the Catholic Church’s most senior cleric in Kosovo, which has a population that is more than 90 percent Muslim and a small Catholic community.

Tuesday was the 20th anniversary of Mother Teresa’s death. Pope Francis canonised her last year.

“That great saint is in heaven, Mother Teresa, that simple woman who with her example told millions and millions of people in the world to love each other, to help each other,” said Cardinal Ernest Simoni, the pope’s representative at the consecration ceremony.

The 88-year old priest from neighbouring Albania served 18 years in prison because of his faith during Albania’s Communist regime, which banned religion from 1967 until its collapse in 1990.

Born Agnes Gonxhe Bojaxhiu on August 26, 1910 to Albanian parents, Teresa went to India in 1929 as a sister of the Loreto order. In 1946, she received what she described as a “call within a call” to found a new order dedicated to caring for the most unloved and unwanted, the “poorest of the poor” in the slums of her adopted city, Calcutta.

The Missionaries of Charity order went on to become one of the most well-known in the world, with more than 4,000 sisters in their trademark blue-trimmed white saris doing as Teresa instructed: “Small things with great love.”

She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.