August 26th, 2010
10:18 PM ET
CNN's Marcia Biggs filed this report from New York:
A few hundred people gathered outside New York's Empire State Building on Thursday evening to protest the building owner's decision not to acknowledge Mother Teresa's birthday.
The Roman Catholic nun, Nobel Prize winner, and champion of the sick and poor would have been 100 years old on Thursday. Some Catholics had asked the building's owner, Anthony E. Malkin, to bathe the building in blue and white lights in honor of the colors of her order, the Missionaries of Charity.
Malkin refused, saying he wanted to avoid setting a precedent for honoring religious figures.
But William Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights, called the move "indefensible... an insult to Catholics."
"Is he that stupid that now he's known as the anti-Mother Teresa elite in New York City?" Donohue said.
Donohue organized the Thursday rally outside the building's entrance, which featured speeches from Jews–including comedian Jackie Mason–Christians, Hindus, and state and city politicians.
"This is going to turn out bigger than it would have been if he'd lit the building," said one protester. "Whether he lights the building or not, she (Mother Teresa) won. We're all here."
While some critics say the rally would have disappointed Mother Teresa, famous for her avoidance of the limelight, a Catholic priest in the crowd said he thought she would think it was "marvelous."
Mother Teresa arrived in India in 1929 and dedicated her life to help those in need, most famously in Calcutta. She died in India in 1997 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in October 2003.
Donohue said that the Empire State Building had celebrated The Simpsons Movie DVD release, the anniversary of the formation of the People's Republic of China and a recent Mariah Carey album with special lights.
As night fell on New York on Thursday, the iconic skyscraper was lit up in red, white, and blue to honor the anniversary of women's suffrage.
Still, conspicuously absent from the rally were any blue and white saris. Not unlike the way in which they live every day, her own Missionaries of Charity may have preferred to mark her birthday in quieter fashion.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.