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News 25 Jan 13

Giant Mother Teresa to Adorn Macedonian Capital

The spree in erecting giant monuments in Skopje continues as Macedonian authorities lay grounds for a new 30-metre-high statue dedicated to the Nobel Prize-winning nun.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Subrata Roy [left] and PM Nikola Gruevski [right]

The statue of the late nun, who was born in Skopje to an ethnic Albanian family but spent most of her life in India, is to be erected on Skopje’s main Macedonia Square.

The cash is coming from the Indian billionaire Subrata Roy who is on a business visit to Macedonia.

“Here we will build the home of Mother Teresa. I have a proposal… to call it, the Statue of Humanity,” Roy said at the groundbreaking ceremony on Friday.

After the giant statue of Alexander the Great, erected in 2011, and another of his father, Philip, which was erected in May last year, Mother Teresa’s statue will be the third giant monument to adorn the centre of Skopje as part of the mostly government-funded “Skopje 2014” revamp of the city.

“No matter what we do, we can never do enough for Mother Teresa”, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said in his speech at the ceremony.

The statement addresses the fact that Skopje already has a several-metre-high bronze statue of the nun, as well as recently opened government sponsored memorial house.

No details about the cost or the visual appearance of the new statue have yet been revealed.

Born in Üsküb, today’s Skopje, when the region was part of the Ottoman Empire, Mother Teresa’s origins are today claimed by three neighbouring countries, Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia.

A plaque was placed to commemorate the start of the project


Major roads, airports and public buildings across the region bear her name, and cities including Tirana, Skopje and Pristina have their own statues of the Catholic missionary who gained a world reputation for her work in the slums of India.

The location of the new sculpture, not far from that of Alexander, has already drawn some criticism among Macedonians.

“We are grateful for the donation but the city square is already full of statues, it makes no aesthetic sense,” one user commented on the Macedonian architecture forum, Build.mk.

Another user of the site wrote: “This is too much! Building such lush monument to Mother Teresa is in direct contradiction to her life philosophy that embraced modesty”.

Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in 1910, Mother Teresa died in 1997. "By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun," she once said. "As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus."

The Skopje 2014 project aims to give the neglected, grey-looking centre of the Macedonian capital a more monumental appearance by drawing inspiration from the architectural styles of Classic Antiquity.

The plan envisages construction of many buildings, including, museums, theatres, concert halls, hotels and administrative offices, as well as a number of large bronze and marble statues.

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