Thursday, August 26, 2010

Empire State Bldg Not Lit For Mother Teresa Birthday

The Empire State Building was lit in red, white and blue on Thursday night for women's suffrage as more than 100 people protested a refusal by the iconic skyscraper's owner to mark Mother Teresa's 100th birthday.

Yet the colors that the Catholic League had requested in her honor were the most luminous against the darkened skyline: The building's 203-foot pinnacle blazed a brilliant blue, while the stories just below glowed a frosty white. A fading red was just visible underneath.

The colors chosen were intended to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote.

Nevertheless, more than 100 people led by the Catholic League protested the building owner's decision to deny the organization's request to change the colors of its lights to blue and white in honor of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning nun.

Illuminating the 102-story Manhattan skyscraper in different colors is a tradition. The building has been lit up for the release of Mariah Carey's album in 2008, for the 25th anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 2009, for religious holidays such as the end of Ramadan and Easter and for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

But the building's owner, Anthony Malkin, declined the Catholic League's request to honor the ethnic Albanian nun, citing a policy of not illuminating the edifice for religious figures. Malkin did not respond to a phone message on Thursday requesting comment.

New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan said Mother Teresa, who was born Aug. 26, 1910, may not have approved of the brouhaha over the lighting of the skyscraper.

Dolan, speaking at St. Patrick's Cathedral with members of Mother Teresa's order in the pews dressed in the blue-and-white saris she favored, said she "might be a little unhappy."

"She was humility personified," he said. "She didn't like a lot of attention."

Mother Teresa died Sept. 5, 1997, at age 87. In 2003, she was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church — a step toward possible sainthood.

In her honor, billboards in Times Square were illuminated.

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