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Canonization Portrait of St. Teresa of Calcutta Unveiled

Mother Teresa referred to February 3, 1986 as the happiest day of her life. On that day, Pope John Paul II visited the slums of Calcutta, where she and her fellow Missionaries of Charity cared for the poorest of the poor: the discarded and lonely people left to die in the streets.

Mother Teresa clearly rejoiced in St. John Paul II’s great love for her people. His every action was of a loving and encouraging father. The Missionaries’ home for the dying, he said, “proclaims the profound dignity of every human person,” a dignity that “comes from God our Creator in whose image we are all made.”

On September 1, 2016, on the occasion of Mother Teresa’s upcoming canonization, the Saint John Paul II National Shrine was honored to host the unveiling of the canonization portrait of this “Saint of the Streets” in front of a crowd of journalists, guests, and Missionaries of Charity.

Patrick E. Kelly, of the Shrine, observed that it was fitting for the ceremony to be held at the Shrine because of the close friendship between Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa, which continued for the rest of their lives. Pope John Paul II even beatified Mother Teresa in October 2003, six years after her death.

Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson commissioned acclaimed painter and sculptor Chas Fagan to create the portrait, which is titled St. Teresa of Calcutta: Carrier of God’s Love. The postulator of Mother Teresa’s cause for canonization later selected it as the official canonization image.

At the unveiling, which took place in the Communion of Saints gallery of our permanent exhibit on St. John Paul II, Fagan remarked that the challenge “was not just satisfying the accuracy of a likeness, but satisfying everyone’s memory and love.” He found the key to solve that challenge when he learned of Mother Teresa’s saying that “joy is strength.” Fagan said it was “the hook that guided the entire composition.”

Also present at the unveiling were many sisters of the Missionaries of Charity who live in Washington, D.C.