Saints

6 inspiring stories from people who met Mother Teresa

Even if they only encountered her briefly, those who did said the saint radiated God's presence

Portrait de Mère Teresa.

CIRIC File

“The Virgin Mary and the saints are the luminous reflection and attractive witness of the singular beauty of Christ, beauty of infinite love of God who gives Himself and makes Himself known to men. These reflect, each according to their manner, as prisms of a crystal, faces of a diamond, contours of a rainbow, the light and original beauty of the God of Love; man’s holiness is a participation in the holiness of God and by it His beauty. When this is fully welcomed into the heart and spirit, it illuminates and guides the lives of men and women in their daily actions.” (The Via Pulchritudinis)

What is it like to meet a saint?

Many of us have perhaps met someone in our lifetime whose holiness was profound and inspiring. Simply shaking hands and talking with that person made such an impact on us that we were changed. We could tell there was something different about them and that they radiated God’s presence.

For anyone who has met Mother Teresa, the divine radiation was beyond words. Her life of simple humility, extraordinary charity and devotion to prayer made her an exemplary instrument of God.

Mother Teresa let shine before others the beauty of God by living a life united to God’s will, and many can attest to her sanctity after meeting her or being in her presence.

In fact, countless people have given witness to her holiness and when it came time to gather personal testimonies of Mother Teresa’s sanctity to send to Rome for her canonization, they filled 7,000 pages!

What follows is a selection of testimonies as well as personal reflections by those who met her. As you will see, it didn’t take much for others to recognize Mother Teresa as a living saint.

Father Samuel Martin

“I met Mother Teresa in 1995 at one of her convents in Rome. We were invited to attend early morning Mass (very early!) with the Missionaries of Charity and then have the chance to meet Mother Teresa afterwards. My first impression was her diminutive stature – but the immediate second impression was her remarkable vigor and attention to others. Here was a woman fully alive and I was captivated by her charity and joy. Imagine our amazement when she invited about 10 of us American seminarians to have breakfast with her in a quiet dining room! Mother regaled us with stories and it was clear from the start that this woman was holy in a way I had never experienced. This side of eternity it’s not likely I’ll ever forget meeting a person who was undeniably a saint of God.”

Father Paul John

Father Paul brought Mother Teresa to a secondary school where he was principal in India. “Since Hindus, Muslims, and Christians all take her for a woman of God and a holy person they all wanted to get a blessing,” he recalled during a recent telephone interview with Aleteia. “In India, to get a blessing means to be touched on the head individually.” Large crowds gathered outside the Missionaries of Charity convent where she was staying, and it was close to Father Paul’s school. She agreed to come to the school and meet the crowds there. Father Paul had them approach her one by one. “Many people prostrated themselves and then got a blessing,” he said. “She gave each one a Miraculous Medal, whether they were Christian or Hindu or Muslim. Everyone was so happy they got a Miraculous Medal from her.”

Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle (Mother Teresa and Me: Ten Years of Friendship)

“Mother Teresa glided past us, her bare feet making feather-light sounds on the floor. Her wrinkled hands were clasped tightly and held close to her heart. I could sense an awesome presence as she passed by. I momentarily lifted my eyes to take a little more in. Her height — or lack thereof — took me by surprise. This spiritual giant stood not much taller than my 6-year-old daughter…. Mother Teresa came straight toward me and 2-year-old Jessica, secure in my arms so she couldn’t run around the convent. Mother Teresa’s surprise approach was direct yet gentle. ‘Is this the baby who was singing at Mass?’ she asked me. ‘Yes!’ I replied. It seemed as if everything moved in slow motion as Mother Teresa of Calcutta, dressed in her simple white sari trimmed in Blessed Mother blue, reached out her worn, loving hand to touch my daughter and pat her back. In fact, I think my heart stopped for that moment…That first encounter with this saint…penetrated my heart and etched an unforgettable message that remains to this day. I think that, in a certain sense, standing next to Mother Teresa was like standing near Jesus Christ himself. I had the sense of feeling wildly exhilarated and deeply calmed all at once.”

Testimony of a Missionary of Charity sister, Mother Teresa’s former student in Loreto School (A Call to Mercy)

“I was a little nervous since I hadn’t been to the city before and didn’t know what to expect in this new school [St. Mary’s, Loreto]. All my fears melted away on meeting Mother. The day I joined school, Mother Teresa came into the parlor, called me by my name in such perfect Bengali, and greeted me in the Bengali way and language. What a welcome she gave me! Coming to know Mother over the next month, I came to appreciate her as more than a teacher or the headmistress.”

Susan Conroy (Mother Teresa’s Lessons of Love and Secrets of Sanctity)

“During my first encounters with Mother Teresa…I was struck by her profound humility. I knew that she was world famous and I had imagined that all famous people have a sense of their own greatness, a pride that shows through in their words and manners. There was none of that in Mother Teresa. There was an apparent selflessness in her, a quality that is not easy to find, even in non-famous people. It was as if she was totally unaware of herself, as if she was aware of only God and others. I had never met anyone in my life as humble as Mother Teresa. She was as humble as the poor whom we would lift up out of the gutters. Her humility was strikingly beautiful to me. Mother Teresa embodied so many other qualities as well, qualities that are all too rare in the world today. I wished that I could have brought her home with me, shown her to everyone, and said: “Just look at her!” Her appearance, her spirit, and her presence spoke a thousand words about integrity, about God, about true beauty, about inner strength, about love. Before meeting her, I had held incredibly high expectations and hopes concerning her, and I was not disappointed in the least. The reality was even better than what I had imagined. All that I learned about her and from her had been true-to-life.”

Testimony of a Missionary of Charity sister (A Call to Mercy)

“Mother had heard that there were many homeless men sleeping on the streets of London, and she asked to be taken to see them. So one night, Ann Blaikie and I accompanied Mother. Noticing one man in particular, Mother got out of the car and went to him. At first, he took no notice of her presence, but when she took his hand, he looked up and said, ‘It has been a long time since I felt the warmth of a human hand.’ Mother returned to the car and told us, ‘This is a sick man. We cannot leave him on the street like this.’…Then we took [the man] to the Salvation Army.”

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Philip Kosloski

Philip Kosloski is a husband and father of five, and staff writer at Aleteia. He also writes for The Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer), and blogs at the National Catholic Register.