Mother Teresa turns 86, dependent on care and prayers
August 25, 1996
Web posted at: 7:20 p.m. EDT (2320 GMT)
CALCUTTA, India (CNN) -- Mother Teresa has spent most of her
life caring and praying for the poor, the old and the sick of
the world, but as she turns 86 Monday, she's the one who
needs care and prayer.
The revered Roman Catholic nun showed slight signs of
improvement Sunday, but remained on a respirator in intensive
care at a hospital where she was struggling with a failing
heart and malaria.
In the midst of her physical weakness, she showed a glimmer
of her spiritual strength.
"She blessed some of the sisters of Missionaries of Charity
who were allowed to see her in the evening," Dr. S.K. Sen,
medical director of Woodlands Nursing Home, told reporters.
"She blessed them by raising her hand gently."
The missionary was taken to the hospital Tuesday with a high
fever and severe vomiting. She has since suffered heart
failure and was diagnosed with malaria and a chest infection.
Her fever abated Sunday after days of antibiotics.
"She is still seriously ill. We cannot say she is out of
danger unless respiratory support is switched off," Sen said.
"We are very much encouraged by Sunday's progress. By Monday,
we hope things will significantly improve."
The Nobel laureate normally spends her birthday much like any
other day, in prayer and service with her chosen family,
Calcutta's outcasts and fellow workers in the religious order
she founded nearly 50 years ago. They rescue the destitute
and dying from gutters and garbage dumps. (153K AIFF or WAV sound)
In serving the poor, she said she was serving her God. But
the Roman Catholic nun also embraced those of other faiths,
and called for Christians, Hindus and Muslims to live
together in love. (94K AIFF or WAV sound)
Thousands of people, including Muslims and Hindus, joined in
prayer for her Sunday. Catholic services were crowded at
churches across India in a spontaneous outpouring of concern.
Special prayers were held at the Mother House, the sprawling
headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity. More than 100
nuns and volunteers gathered at mass to pray for her.
"Even a maulvi (Muslim cleric) came and knelt in the
chapel," said Sister Priscilla, a senior nun at the order.
She said several Hindus and Muslims had also visited Mother
House to inquire about Mother Teresa, adding: "She is a
living saint for everybody here."
Mother Teresa's health has been in decline for more than a
decade. She has suffered pneumonia, broken ribs and a heart
attack, and has had a pacemaker since 1989.
Correspondent Anita Pratap and Reuters contributed to this report.
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