BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CNS)–Mother Angelica, who founded the Eternal Word Television Network and turned it into one of the world's largest religious media operations, died Easter Sunday at age 92.
Feisty and outspoken, she was a major controversial figure in the U.S. Church in the closing decades of the 20th Century. At the same time, the international scope of EWTN's media operations gave her a ready calling card at the Vatican.
She built the venture into a network that transmits programs 24 hours a day to more than 230 million homes in 144 countries via cable and other technologies. It broadcasts in in English and several other languages.
Ill for many years, last November, Mother Angelica was placed on a feeding tube as she continued to battle severe health issues. In February, members of her religious order, the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, said she was in delicate condition and asked for prayers for her.
Mother Angelica died at her order's Our Lady of Angels Monastery in Hanceville, where she "was surrounded by the prayers and love of her spiritual daughters, sons and dear friends," said a statement from the Poor Clares.
A funeral Mass was celebrated April 1 at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament at the monastery by bishops and clergy from throughout the world. Following her funeral, Mother Angelica's body was interred in the shrine's Crypt Chapel.
"This is a sorrow-filled day for the entire EWTN family. Mother has always, and will always, personify EWTN, the network which she founded," Michael P. Warsaw, chairman and CEO, said in a statement.
"In the face of sickness and long-suffering trials, Mother's example of joy and prayerful perseverance exemplified the Franciscan spirit she held so dear. We thank God for Mother Angelica and for the gift of her extraordinary life," he said. "Her accomplishments and legacies in evangelization throughout the world are nothing short of miraculous and can only be attributed to divine providence and her unwavering faithfulness to Our Lord."
In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross to Mother Angelica and Deacon Bill Steltemeier, thenchairman of EWTN›s board of governors, for distinguished service to the Church. The cross, whose name is Latin for «for the Church and the pope,» is the highest papal honor that can be conferred on laypeople and clergy.
"Hers was a practical spirituality for the man in the pew," said Father Joseph Wolfe of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word in his homily at the April 1 funeral Mass. "I believe that deep down we all want holiness because it is the only thing that is really satisfies us. The saints are those who reached their potential."
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