Mother Teresa, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her work among the poor in Calcutta, India, opened an AIDS Hospice in Greenwich Village on Christmas Eve in 1985. Mother Teresa was the founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic congregation of women dedicated to helping the poor. Considered one of the 20th century’s greatest humanitarians, she was canonized as Saint Teresa of Calcutta in 2016.
In 1985 AIDS was still very much a disease with unknown, unresearched implications. Many were dying and the illness was highly stigmatized. Community opposition at the time forced cancellation of plans for other AIDS centers in New York City. It makes perfect sense that Mother Teresa, known for her work with the poor and lepers of Calcutta, was called to help those suffering under extreme discrimination for their illness and that St. Veronica’s in Greenwich Village opened its arms to the terminally-ill patients.
Urging mercy and support for those with AIDS, Mother Teresa opened the hospice in the rectory of St. Veronica’s. Called the “Gift of Love,” it cared for terminally-ill victims of the disease.
″We want that nobody dies unloved and uncared for,″ the Roman Catholic nun and Nobel Peace Prize winner said at a news conference following the opening of the facility. ″We are hoping that they will be able to live and die in peace by getting tender love and care.″
Mother Teresa enlisted the help of Mayor Edward I. Koch to win medical furloughs for three state prison inmates with AIDS. Gov. Mario Cuomo ultimately granted the furlough.
“Based upon humanitarian and compassionate considerations, I agree with Mother Teresa’s request,’ said Cuomo at the time. ‘She visited the inmates. She wanted to care for them. These three inmates want to be in her care.”
Mother Teresa, founder of the Missionary Sisters of Charity, called the 14- bed hospice at St. Veronica’s Church in Greenwich Village a ″guest house″ for people with AIDS. When asked about the Christmas Eve opening, she said: ″Because Jesus was also born, so I wanted also to help them to be born in joy and love and peace.″
Mother Teresa was born in 1910. She died September 1997 at the age of 87. Born in what is now Macedonia, she joined a religious order of Irish Catholic nuns. Later she would ask permission from the Pope to found her own her order, the Missionaries of Charity. Her sisters are still doing her work around the world and in Harlem, Greenwich Village, Brooklyn, and the South Bronx.