Columnist details Mother Angelica's committed spirit

To honor the 90th birthday of Mother Angelica, founder of Eternal Word Television Network, renowned Catholic author Alice von Hildebrand has written an account of the nun's refusal "to be defeated."

"She was born defeated," von Hildebrand begins, explaining how Mother Angelica, born Ritta Rizzo, was the fruit of an "unhappy marriage," which resulted in her father abandoning her and her mother.

"How devastating for an alert little girl to realize at an early age, that she was the fruit of a marriage that should not have taken place," von Hildebrand wrote.

Although she and her mother lived in "utter poverty," Rizzo was able to attend Catholic school, but "was not given the loving attention she needed" as many of the nuns "did not understand the plight of a child of divorcees."

It was not until she "miraculously escaped from a deadly accident" that she "understood that God loved her and had given her life for a reason."

Eventually, that understanding of God's love for her grew and she heard the calling to her vocation as a nun. Despite objections from her mother, "who depended on her heavily," she joined the Poor Clares in 1944.

More difficulty presented itself in her life when she entered the convent. Her foot became entangled in a cord while cleaning and she fell backwards, damaging her back and forcing her to wear braces and walk on crutches.

Again "refusing to be defeated," Mother Angelica felt a calling to found a Poor Clares Monastery in the Deep South, "where the percentage of Catholics is minimal."

Despite many "highly reasonable" arguments from others, Mother Angelica went on to found "the largest Catholic TV station in the world."

Von Hildebrand sums up all of the tireless nun's success in one factor of her life that often goes overlooked: "God often confided his most cherished mission to those who, knowing to be weak, put all their confidence in Him."

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