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Guildhall will soon have been visited by a saint

Swansea's Guildhall can very soon lay claim to having been visited by a saint.

Mother Teresa in Guildhall

Mother Teresa, who's being canonised by Pope Francis in Rome on Sunday September 4, visited the Swansea Council building in June, 1996, where she met with the Lord Mayor at the time, Cllr Des Thomas.

During her visit to the building, Mother Teresa signed the Distinguished Visitors Book in the Lord Mayor's Parlour. Other distinguished guests to have visited the building and signed the book over the years include Prime Ministers, Presidents and movie stars. The Queen, Prince Charles, Princess Diana, James Callaghan, Jimmy Carter, Tony Blair, Joan Collins and former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams are among those whose signatures are included.

Mother Teresa died in 1997, aged 87. A Roman Catholic nun who worked with the poor in the Indian city of Calcutta, she was in Swansea to officially open the convent of the Missionaries of Charity, her religious order, on Clifton Hill in Mount Pleasant. She also attended a service at St Joseph's Cathedral.

Recalling Mother Teresa's visit, Cllr Thomas said: "I met many important people during my year in office, from royalty to heads of state, but no one made such an impression on me as Mother Teresa.

"I remember her visit as if it was yesterday. She was a very special person - there were hundreds of people outside the Guildhall and many members of staff lining the corridors inside, hoping for a glimpse of her. She was remarkably humble, and when offered refreshments would only except a small glass of water.

"Mother Teresa had travelled from Ireland, landing at Fairwood airport, and quickly engaged with the Leader of the Council at the time, Cllr Tom Jones, and myself.  She expressed her concern regarding the numbers of homeless people in Swansea at that time, with a view to identifying a site on which to build a shelter for them in the centre of Swansea."

These discussions helped pave the way for the building of the Missionaries of Charity hostel for the homeless on the Strand, which was opened in 2000. The hostel was constructed on land donated by Swansea Council.

Cllr David Hopkins, current Lord Mayor of Swansea, said: "Guildhall has been at the heart of civic life in Swansea since its construction in the 1930s.

"Its recent restoration means it will also be at the forefront of city life for many more years to come, benefitting residents and visitors to the city with wedding functions, concerts, exhibitions and other top quality events in the ornate Brangwyn Hall.

"Flicking through the Distinguished Visitors Book is a pretty enlightening experience. It makes you realise that you're following in the footsteps of some of the most influential and revered people in history when you walk through the building."

A number of movies and TV shows have also been filmed in Guildhall over recent years. They include a new Amazon Prime programme called The Collectors being released next month, with parts of the building doubling-up as 1940s Paris.

Other programmes to have been filmed at Guildhall include Dr Who and Torchwood. Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood also filmed in the building in 2014 for his role in Set Fire to the Stars - a film about Dylan Thomas set in 1950s New York City.

Cllr Hopkins said: "Filming of this kind is great news for Swansea because it combines with our Premier League football team and beauty spots like Rhossili Bay to help further raise the city's profile across the world. It's also encouraging recognition for Guildhall's stunning architecture and upkeep."

Other people to have signed the Distinguished Visitors Book in Guildhall's Lord Mayor's Parlour include Prince Philip, Princess Margaret, writer Russell T Davies and football legend John Charles.


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