Gjergj Kola (Durrës, 1967), Saint Teresa of Calcutta, oil on canvas.
5 September, Memory of Saint Teresa of Calcutta.
It feels nice to present a painting of the great saint painted by a young compatriot of hers. When Agnes Gonxhe Bojaxhiu - this is the family name of the one we all know as Teresa of Calcutta - died in the great Indian city, Gjergj Kola was just 30 years old and had moved 6 years before, for political reasons, to nearby Greece.
We know a lot about Saint Teresa of Calcutta, also because she is very close in time. We still remember her alive and some episodes of her life are well marked in our memory. Perhaps we have also read her writings or short biographies published after her death or especially when she was beatified and then canonised.
Born on August 26, 1910 in Macedonia into a rich Albanian family, she joined the missionary sisters of Our Lady of Loreto at the age of 18. In 1929 she was already in India. For about 20 years, she taught in a prestigious women's boarding school until, on September 10, 1946, she heard powerfully - as she was going by train to a course of spiritual exercises - the voice of the Lord inviting her to serve him among the last. She left her congregation to found a new one, the Missionaries of Charity, which received diocesan recognition on October 7, 1950.
From that day on, her white sari (the colour of mourning in India) edged with blue (the colour of the Virgin Mary) began to walk through the streets of the slums of Calcutta in search of the poorest, the forgotten, the dying, and of all those whom no one had ever sought and loved. These white-blue saris have multiplied and have begun to travel the poorest streets of Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Rome, Manila, Addis Ababa, Boroko, St. Louis...
Master Kola's painting seems to show how Mother Teresa's life and work were born and developed from the last, from the poor, from that undifferentiated colour that surrounds the saint and in which the outlines of the people present are difficult to distinguish. Even Mother Teresa's sari seems of a darker tone of white, almost as if contaminated by the extreme poverty of the crowd that surrounds her, which seems to follow her. This representation reminds that on the crucifix of the Motherhouse in Calcutta, where Saint Teresa has been resting since the day of her death, but also in every chapel community of sisters scattered throughout the world, it says: "I thirst". This phrase, the painful cry of Jesus on the cross that echoed in her heart on the fateful evening of the "second call" of September 10, 1946, is the key to her spirituality.