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It was once forbidden to say Mother Teresa's name in Albania

2016-08-22

He was the first to translate Mother Teresa of Calcutta's prayers into Albanian. Not long ago, Albania's Communist dictatorship banned anything having to do with the existence of God. Ironically, most Albanians were not aware of one of the most universal religious figures in the world, who also happened to be a native of Albania.

VISAR ZHITI
Diplomatic Representative of Albania, Holy See
"Albania was a spiritual desert during the regime. Mother Teresa's name was unheard of and unfamiliar. It was forbidden. Few people knew of her existence.”

Visar Zhiti is the diplomatic representative of Albania to the Holy See. The first time he heard of Mother Teresa he was in prison, serving a sentence for allegedly writing about subversive poems. All of the prisoners were in disbelief when they were told that an unassuming Albanian nun had won the Nobel Peace Prize.

VISAR ZHITI
Diplomatic Representative of Albania, Holy See
"Every time a new prisoner would come in, we would asked them to tell us what was happening on the outside. One of them heard about the Albanian nun who won the Nobel Peace Prize from an Italian television program, which was also prohibited for us. Most were still left in disbelief thinking that it was a fictitious ploy to provoke the regime.”

Mother Teresa was denied entry when her mother and sister passed away. Today, 25 years after the fall of the dictatorship, the country has changed completely. September 4 will be a day of great significance and celebration, as the best-known Albanian will officially be proclaimed a saint. Although, for most Albanians, she has been their saint for many years.

VISAR ZHITI
Diplomatic Representative of Albania, Holy See
"We were always amazed by her works. For us, she was already a saint. Her canonization on September 4 will officiate that for us. We are very happy because we have always dreamed of this day. She has always been our saint and she will finally be canonized by Pope Francis.”

Aside from translating Mother Teresa's writings, Visar Zhiti has also written several books on her. Over the years, Zhiti has managed to collect and share some of the most tender photographic moments of the soon-to-be-saint's life with her fellow compatriots.

For them, seeing Mother Teresa recognized as a saint is more than just a feeling of national pride. It is the confirmation that, despite the attempts of the dictatorship, no one could ever pluck the deep seeded Christian roots in the heart of most Albanians.


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