She was born Rita Rizzo in Canton, Ohio, but she became better known to millions around the world as Mother Angelica, a Franciscan nun who founded the giant media empire known as the Eternal Word Television Network. On Sunday, the EWTN announced that Mother Angelica had died at age 92 from complications of a stroke. As the Washington Post notes, she earned the nickname the "Zinging Nun" during her long media career for going after others in the church she accused of straying from strict traditions. And as nearly every obituary points out, she founded her network in 1981 on a shoestring budget from the garage of a monastery in Alabama. Today, it boasts of beaming into 264 million households around the world, reports CNNMoney.
"Mother Angelica is the only woman in the history of television to found and lead a cable network for 20 years," said Raymond Arroyo of ETWN. The New York Times, meanwhile, digs up this line from a 1995 profile in Time: Mother Angelica is "an improbable superstar of religious broadcasting and arguably the most influential Roman Catholic woman in America." About two years before that profile, she famously criticized the casting of a woman as Jesus in a play at World Youth Day, complaining, “I’m so tired of you, liberal church in America. You’re sick.” And she once had to apologize on air after accusing Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles of heresy over proposed changes to the sacrament of communion, though the apology was so "defiant," it was largely seen as a victory for Mother Angelica in attempts to rein her in, notes the Post. (Read more Catholic Church stories.)