Mother Antonia or Madre Antonia as she is known in Spanish, is an American-born Roman Catholic nun and activist, resident in a Mexican maximum security prison.
Born as Mary Clarke in 1926 to Joseph Clarke and Kathleen Mary Clarke. She has lived for the past 25 years in a cell at La Mesa in Tijuana, Mexico, one of Mexico's most notorious prisons, caring for the inmates. The road outside the jail was known until recently as "Los Pollos," or "The Chickens"; in November 2007 it was renamed "Madre Antonia" in her honor. She is profiled in the book The Prison Angel, written by Pulitzer Prize winning journalists Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan. She has also been interviewed in the wider American media. In the Tijuana jail, in addition to her normal pious work involving the prisoners, she negotiated an end to a riot. She also persuaded the jail administrators to discontinue prisoner incarceration in substandard cells known as the tumbas, Spanish for tombs.
At some point in the 1970s she chose to devote her life to the Church after she had a nightmare, in 1969, that she was a prisoner at Calvary and about to be executed when Jesus appeared to her and offered to take her place.