07 March 2010

Visiting with Mother Teresa

Already in Serbia for a week and a half with the rest of that week to go and another week in Kosovo ahead of me, I was asked to extend my trip by a few days so I could "stop by" Skopje, Macedonia. I won't bore anyone with the details of why and what a mess rearranging my flight was (although an aside to say I am most definitely not looking forward to my 5:20 AM multi stop flight home in coach). My only tourist desire for my lightening stop in Skopje was to get to see the Mother Teresa memorial and museum.

After driving around Skopje for about 40 minutes trying to find my centrally-located, everyone knows where it is hotel, we finally did find it. If you're in Skopje, the Best Western is a good choice. Squishy beds and pillows (and you don't know how awesome that is) and located right in the middle of the pedestrian area. Right across the way from the Mother Teresa memorial and museum. It was like a sign. The memorial, what was built on the sight where once stood the church at which Mother Teresa was baptized on August 27, 1910 as Gonxhe Bojaxhiu (Gon-zha Boy-a-zhu).




The center has several levels, on the ground is the gift shop, under ground is a small multi-media presentation space, and one level up is the memorial gallery which includes pictures, furniture from a typical Macedonian house of Mother Teresa's age, and other mementos from her life.

First constitution of the Missionaries of Charity, handwritten by Mother Teresa

Pictures of Mother Teresa in her missionary work (left and top right) and with friend Pope John Paul II
Mother Teresa's Glory Be prayer 


The highest level of the memorial is a chapel built in the honor of the Blessed Mother Teresa. I personally do not care for modern churches at all, but this is one of the most stunning chapels I have ever been in. I hope I can finish my meetings early enough on Wednesday to attend the 5 PM service in it.


In addition to the memorial there is a Mother Teresa museum. Behind the memorial stands an old tower left from centuries past in which a room is dedicated to her. Filled with photographs from her early life as well as her life as a missionary, art, and mementos, the museum is a lovely room. It was closed when I got there and of course would not be open on Sunday. However, I seem to have made friends with the guy who was minding the gift shop (which was still open). D. is a local artisan working in pottery. For the gift shop he makes busts of Mother Teresa, crosses, and icons as well as replicas of ancient Macedonian pottery. Because I'm so pretty he opened the museum for me :).



This is my favorite picture-the Missionaries of Charity crucifix against the sari


Examples of D.'s pottery


I was so happy to have been able to visit these places honoring Mother Teresa. She holds such a special place for so many people, Catholic and non Catholic alike and is much admired in her home town of Skopje. I was much saddened by her death, even more so when it was overshadowed by the death shortly thereafter of Princess Diana. On October 19, 2003, Pope John Paull II, her good friend and great admirer, had her Beatified, the third step in being declared a Saint by the Catholic Church.

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