The portrait of Mother Teresa that will be displayed on the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica at her Vatican canonization on Sunday was commissioned by the Knights of Columbus and painted by renowned American artist Chas Fagan.
The official canonization image was commissioned by the Knights as a gift to the Missionaries of Charity, the order founded by Mother Teresa in 1950. The gift also includes the printing by the Knights of more than one million prayer cards bearing the new image, primarily for distribution at the canonization Mass that will be led by Pope Francis. Reproductions of the portrait will also be given to Missionaries of Charity and the poor they serve around the world.
“The Knights of Columbus has been privileged to work closely with Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity since the 1970s,” said Knights CEO Carl Anderson. “We always felt a special affinity with Mother Teresa since our first principle is charity. As with her, that principle manifests itself in our own work and also through our help and support for the poor and vulnerable – those on the margins of society.”
The recent printing is not the first such assignment for Mother Teresa’s congregation that has been tackled by the Knights at their New Haven printing plant.
In 1988, Mother Teresa personally delivered her order’s constitutions and official book of prayers for production by the same K of C printing plant that is now supporting her canonization. In a talk at the time to nearly 600 K of C employees, she thanked “the Knights of Columbus for all the good things they have done for the people of God.”
In 1992, Mother Teresa was chosen as the first recipient of the Gaudium et Spes Award, the highest honor that the Knights bestow.
A graduate of Yale University, Chas Fagan has painted portraits of all the U.S. presidents — a collection that regularly tours the country for the White House Historical Association. He lives and works in Charlotte, N.C. Also an accomplished sculptor, Fagan’s pieces include a bronze of President Ronald Reagan that stands in the Capitol rotunda and likenesses of Mother Teresa and Rosa Parks that are carved into the stone detail of the narthex of Washington’s National Cathedral.
The painting of Mother Teresa will be on display at the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven, Conn., for several weeks, starting Friday, Sept. 2, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The display, “Mother Teresa: Saint of the Streets,” is free and open to the public and features memorabilia from the life and ministry of the new saint.