On August 26 the iconic Peace Bridge near Niagara Falls will be lit in blue and white in honor of Mother Teresa, who died in 1997 and is currently under consideration for sainthood. The bridge is being lit as the result of a joint request from the Dioceses of Buffalo and Saint Catharine’s, Ontario.
"We get numerous requests such as this," said Ron Rienas, general manager of the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority, which runs the Peace Bridge. "We did not take the view that this was a religious request. It's really commemorating the charitable works of Mother Teresa."
The request "seemed fitting," given that Mother Teresa was "certainly a woman of peace," said Kevin A. Keenan, spokesman for the Buffalo diocese. "This is symbolic in that Blessed Mother Teresa's light continues to shine around the world."
The Peace Bridge, which spans the Niagara River connecting Buffalo and Fort Erie, Ontario, received a lighting makeover in 2009 that allows for color-changing lights nightly. Nearly 700 light-emitting diode fixtures replaced floodlights on the 1927 steel arch bridge, creating a dramatic new look at night, typically between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m.
Rienas said the requested tribute for Mother Teresa did not appear to be controversial. "Regardless of anyone's religious background, I don't think anyone can argue with the good works that Mother Teresa did. That's the viewpoint we took," he said.
The manner in which this request was handled is in stark contrast to a similar one a few weeks ago to have the Empire State Building in New York City lit to commemorate Mother Teresa. The request was denied, which resulted in protests by some Catholics and eventually led to the joint request by Bishop Edward Kmiec of the Buffalo diocese and Monsignor Wayne Kirkpatrick of the St. Catharine’s diocese for the lighting of the Peace Bridge.
The Peace Bridge LED Lighting System: