Sister Nora Brick, the attack victim, pictured at her literacy program Project Light

An 81-year-old Irish nun and good Samaritan who has been compared to Mother Teresa has been badly beaten at her home in Bradenton, Florida, having opened her door to a man seeking food and water.

A native of Ireland, Nora Brick has been working on Bradenton's 14th Street West, one of the toughest stretches anywhere along the 265-mile Tamiami Trail.

On Monday evening she opened the door to her mobile home at about 6 p.m. She was dragged to the bedroom and hit in the face and head.

It's believed her attacker was 5”10” and 190 pounds. Brick is just 5’ and 100 pounds. After the attack her attacker fled on a bike.

Brick was taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital. Her right eye was bruised and her left eye was swollen shut. Her nose was broken, she needed stitches in her head and she also suffered a concussion.

Donald Gaudette of Stillpoint House of Prayer and Healing, where Brick works, told the “Herald Tribune,” "She's going to be okay.  But her face looks like she went 15 rounds with a boxer."

Police are now searching for Eliseo Ortiz in connection with the attack. The 51-year-old homeless man volunteered at Stillpoint but was given a warning due to trespassing two weeks ago.

Manatee County Commissioner Pat Glass, who has known Brick for years said, "She's just a warm heart, like Mother Teresa."  She said Brick is gritty and wants to help what she calls the "underbelly of society.”

She said, "She's well known in Bradenton in areas where you wouldn't want to go.  And she was unafraid; she would go to a bad landlord and yell at them, saying, 'You ought to be ashamed of yourself.'"

Brick joined the Order of St. Francis in 1947. In 1951 she moved to the U.S. and worked as a teacher in Brooklyn and Savannah, Georgia.

In the 1960s she participated in the civil rights marches with Martin Luther King. She moved to Florida in 1975 and focused on aiding migrants.

She founded a literacy project, Project Light, in 1995 and launched Stillpoint in 2000 to provide food and clothes to the needy.

In an interview in 2007 she said, "The basic ministry of this house is to be intercessors…It's standing in the gap like the great prophets of old, to pray for those who need it most."

On Monday Gaudette visited Brick in hospital. He said, "The last thing she said to me before I left…was that she forgives him."