Next week, August 26th to be precise, marks what would be the 100th birthday of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The Albanian-born nun and foundress of the Missionaries of Charity religious order, died on Sept. 5, 1997 and was beatified in Rome on Oct. 19, 2003. Books and documentaries about her life and work abound. The two biographies published during her lifetime—and, in my judgment the best—are Malcolm Muggeridge’s Something Beautiful for God and Such a Vision of the Street, by Eileen Egan. Both books remain in print to this day, some 25 years after publication. Worthy of special note is Come and See: A Photojournalist’s Journey into the World of Mother Teresa, by Linda Schaefer. And as Jim Martin, S.J., mentioned in a blog post on August 3, Time Inc. has just published a special commemorative edition: Mother Teresa at 100: The Life and Works of a Modern Saint, a beautiful package and a collector’s delight.
I must confess a special affinity for the Egan book, which I edited and guided during my tenure at Doubleday publishers (now part of the Random House, Inc. conglomerate), and which is now available from Galilee Trade books. Coincidentally, as publication of the book approached, I had the privilege of meeting Mother Teresa in person; she was visiting her Sisters who minister in a downtrodden section of the Bronx. The late John A. Hardon, S.J., spiritual adviser to that community, drove Ms. Egan and me from my midtown offices to the Bronx. We enjoyed tea and conversation in the modest kitchen before going into the chapel—leaving our shoes at the threshold. I took the occasion of Mother Teresa’s impending beatification about 27 years later to share my memories in America (“Blessed Is She,” Oct. 13, 2003). In a telephone interview with the aforementioned Linda Schaefer she spoke movingly of the holiness of this diminutive nun, whose influence and spiritual impact has spread across the globe.
Among the special events planned for Mother Teresa's centennial: a documentary on the Discover Channel entitiled "Mother Teresa: Saint of Darkness." You can learn more about it here.
Patricia A. Kossmann