A letter from St. Teresa...
I was looking for a long lost friend online and happened upon a connection, which led to a story associated with another group of priests, which led to another connection, and then I found a letter from St. Teresa sold at auction. It was a letter written to a priest I once knew. Which made me wonder, does he even know it was sold?
Description from the auction site:
Mother Teresa Autograph Letter Signed. Two ruled pages of one leaf, 6" x 7.5", Calcutta, India, December 18, 1989. Bearing a stamp in the upper right corner reading, "Missionaries of Charity / 54A Acharya J. Chandra Bose / Calcutta 700016, India." Writing to Fr. Sergio Demartini, the Roman Catholic missionary attempts to coax the Father to join Br. Angelo Devananda as a member of the Brothers of the Word to work in Calcutta. In doing so, Mother Teresa writes about the charity work being done in Calcutta for "Drug adicts who are in very great number here." Clean paper with no folds. Very bold ink throughout. Mother Teresa's signature and final line of text are written using a different pen than the one she used for the rest of the text. The letter reads in full:
"I write to you to let you know that the 'Brothers of the Word' are being fully established in Calcutta to serve Jesus in the distressing disguise of the Drug adicts who are in a very great number here in Calcutta. Br. Devananda and a few Brothers have started the work. I would be very happy if you wish to join him and share in the beautiful love service to the Poorest of the Poor. I am sure you know Br. Devananda - (Fr. Angelo) He is looking forward to your coming. If it is God's will that you come kindly send me all information about yourself so that I can help you with the Visa to come to India. Let us pray to Our Lady to make this possible if it is the will of Her son Jesus. Please pray for me. Happy & Holy New Year. God Bless you [signed] M Teresa MC."
Mother Teresa founded the Brothers of the Word in 1979 as part of the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic Latin Rite religious congregation established by her in 1950. Br Devananda, whom Mother Teresa mentions in this letter for being one of the Brothers, edited a book earlier in 1985 entitled Total Surrender: Mother Teresa.
Relics get sold online.
I just made a 'relic' from the sand taken from the grave of the Trappist Martyrs of Algeria - I would never sell it. To be sure it is not an 'official' relic, but the sand is authentic and given to me by a Trappist in this country - not too long after the monks death. The sand I received from Conyer's had a note with the name P. Celestine - so I expect that bit of sand was found around his body. To be a real relic for public veneration, it needs official documentation from the Congregation for the Saints of course. I only have notes from monks confirming the sand is from the graves of the martyrs.
Sometimes I make 'relicarios' - paintings. Sometimes I will include a stone from Sinai or dirt from Chimayo, but they are not relics per se. It is wrong to sell relics. Unfortunately I've noticed on Ebay and elsewhere that the actual relic particle sometimes appears to have been removed, but the reliquary or rather the theca remains intact - with the decoration and even the spot where the particle was placed - and is still sold. That is even worse than selling an intact relic.
Relics belong to the Church - not to individuals. Never sell relics. Relics should be returned to the Church, never sold. It is a person's responsibility to ensure the relics are returned when we die, and not end up in a thrift store.
I have a feeling much of my art will end up in a thrift store or the garbage - so I think I will stop adding rocks from Sinai and earth from Chimayo.