Just days before Mother Teresa of Calcutta is to be made an official saint of the Roman Catholic Church, three assailants brutally beat and gagged five nuns at a charity she founded - Missionaries of Charity convent in Mar del Plata, Argentina.
According to Fox News, after beating the nuns, the men restrained them so they could not cry for help while they ransacked every corner of the house. Looking for gold, the men reportedly opened the tabernacle and emptied out the area holding consecrated Holy Communion hosts. While they damaged the property and terrorized the nuns, the thieves made off with a mere $3 - the only money the women had on them at the time.
Catholic News Agency notes that this is the second time in recent weeks that such an event has occurred in Argentina. On August 15, unidentified men entered Our Lady of Mercy parish in the Santa Fe province of Argentina, where they desecrated and stole a bronze tabernacle containing consecrated hosts
During a service held following the initial attack, Archbishop of Santa Fe, José María Arancedo urged congregants to stand firm in their faith despite continued persecution.
"This calls us to increase our love for Jesus in the Eucharist, to strengthen our hearts joined to him, to strengthen our faith in the Lord, because these are times of the persecution of the Church, and like the first Christians we need to be strengthened and encouraged to walk with resolve on the path of faith," he said.
The Missionaries of Charity convent was founded by Mother Teresa in 1950, and provides free care for terminally ill HIV and AIDS patients. Teresa, known for her work among the world's poorest of the poor in the slums of the Indian city now called Kolkata, will be made an official saint of the Roman Catholic Church on Sunday.
According to Reuters, the Catholic Church defines saints as those "believed to have been holy enough during their lives to now be in Heaven and able to intercede with God to perform miracles." Teresa, who died of a heart attack on Sept. 5, 1997, has been credited with two miracles, both involving the healing of sick people. The Roman Catholic Church has more than 10,000 saints, many of whom had to wait centuries before their elevation.
Hundreds of thousands of faithful are expected to attend the canonization service for the nun, which will be led by Pope Francis in front of St. Peter's basilica.