Television evangelist Mother Angelica, foundress of the Catholic network EWTN-TV, has suffered a second stroke and is in the intensive-care unit at a Birmingham hospital. A spokeswoman for the monastery in Hanceville, Alabama, where she lives, says Mother Angelica is "semi-conscious" and in "stabilized" condition at the hospital. Mother Angelica suffered the stroke Christmas Eve night at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, a sprawling new complex she recently built about an hour from Birmingham. Surgery was performed to remove a blood clot in her brain, according to one source of EWTN, and Mother Angelica's condition will not be known until the end of the week.

We are urging prayers for Mother Angelica, an old friend who had suffered a previous mild stroke last September that left her left eye unable to properly lubricate and affected the right side of her face. She has been wearing an eye patch during her television appearances, and two weeks ago fell, breaking her arm and necessitating the insertion of pins -- but despite all odds had returned to the monastery for Christmas.

She is a tough fighter and if anyone can fully recover, she will. She is said to have come through the surgery well. Born on April 20 in 1923, she is now 78 years old and besides her work at EWTN has served as abbess of a monastery flourishing with vocations. Prayers especially to St. Rita, St. Clare, and St. Francis (her birth name is Rita) would be appropriate. The monastery released a statement saying, "We are deeply appreciative of the outpouring of prayer and concern received from people across the country since news about Mother Angelica's stroke has been heard. We ask that there be no visitors at the hospital." The statement, from Sister Mary Catherine, Mother Vicar of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, added, "We won't know the prognosis of Mother Angelica's condition until the end of the week."

Mother Angelica's life has been full of physical trials. For many years she couldn't walk without braces and assistance, and leading up to her latest stroke had lapsed into a condition that at one point a year ago had caused a brush with death. But she came back from that strongly. She has preserved her ability to do her widely-seen televisions program, Mother Angelica Live, until recent weeks. We'll watch this closely and keep you posted.

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