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Archbishop: Mother Teresa underwent exorcism

Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa  

By Satinder Bindra
CNN New Delhi Bureau

KOLKATA, India (CNN) -- Senior church officials in Kolkata, previously called Calcutta, India, acknowledge Mother Teresa had an exorcism performed on her in the later years of life.

The exorcism took place in a hospital where she had gone for cardiac problems, said Archbishop of Calcutta Henry D'Souza. The archbishop himself had been hospitalized at the same facility and shared the same doctor as Mother Teresa.

He said he noticed that while Mother Teresa was calm during the day, at night she appeared "extremely agitated." D'Souza said Mother Teresa would pull off wires and other monitoring equipment stuck to her body.

He said that is when he believed Mother Teresa "might be under the attack of the evil one." He offered to arrange for an exorcism for the elderly nun. She agreed.

CNN's Satinder Bindra talks with Archbishop Henry D'Souza about the exorcism performed on Mother Teresa (September 7)

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CNN's Satinder Bindra reports on letters from Mother Teresa that show she often was tormented by doubts over her faith (September 7)

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What is an exorcism?  
Excerpts from Mother Teresa's letters  

"So I said let's do the prayer of exorcism over her. So I called one of the priests who was a holy man in Calcutta," D'Souza said. "I told him, 'Please say the prayer of exorcism over Mother Teresa.' And he got a shock and said, 'Shall I pray and should I drive out the devil if it's there?'"

"I said, 'Yes, you do.' But he says, 'What will the devil do to me?' I said to him, 'You command the devil to go if he's there. In the name of the church, as archbishop, I command you to go and do it.'"

After the exorcism was over, the archbishop said Mother Teresa "slept like a baby."

He emphasized that other great religious leaders faced similar challenges.

D'Souza said the revelations about Mother Teresa show that she was "both holy and human," making her even more special.

The archbishop also corroborated earlier reports on CNN that Mother Teresa felt abandoned by God at times during her life.

Those revelations were first made to CNN by Mother Teresa's closest confidante, Sister Nirmala, who now heads the order, Missionaries of Charity, established by Mother Theresa in 1950.

"This is part of the spiritual life of people, and God sometimes wants to unite the soul very closely to himself. He will allow them to feel abandoned by Him. And Jesus also on the cross felt he was abandoned," Sister Nirmala said.

She said Mother Teresa is most remembered for her humanness -- "How human she was, how loving she was. How she wanted to be just one of us."

D'Souza told CNN that Mother Teresa felt abandoned particularly in her early years -- feelings she revealed in letters.

He said in one letter she wrote that she had been walking the streets of Calcutta all day searching for a house where she could start her work.

"At the end of the day, she came back and she wrote in her diary, 'Today, I wandered the streets the whole day. My feet are aching and I have not been able to find a home. And I also get the temptation, of the tempter telling me, "Leave all this, go back to the convent in which you came."'"

She found her home and the rest is history. The Missionaries of Charity feeds 500,000 families a year in Calcutta alone, treats 90,000 leprosy patients annually and educates 20,000 children every year.

Millions of Indians marked the fourth anniversary of her death (she died September 5, 1997). The archbishop led a Mass Wednesday morning at the Motherhouse, where Mother Teresa lived. Statues in the house were decorated with garlands and her grave was bedecked in flowers.

The Vatican has begun the process of trying to declare her a saint who dedicated her life to the service of the poor.

"Today, Mother is with God. Now in his presence, she has more power with God. She is no more on earthly level," Sister Nirmala said. "She has passed to eternal life. There she is very, very powerful."

• Mother Teresa Official Web Site

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