On January 27th, Marie Constantin visited AMU’s campus and offered reflections on her time spent with Mother Teresa and the Sisters of Charity. Students and members of the university community gathered in the Mother Teresa Exhibition Hall for an hour of reflection on the life of the great woman and saint of our time.
Marie Constantin shared how she began photographing Mother Teresa simply because it was a paid job. Her first commission was for Mother’s 1984 visit to New Orleans; it was during that gig that Constantin took what was to become Mother Teresa’s official beatification photo. “Unbeknownst to me,” she said, “I had taken the photo that would one day hang over St. Peter’s Basilica, to be unveiled in front of John Paul II and three hundred thousand people.”
Years later, after seeing Mother Teresa serving the poor on television, Constantin experienced a spiritual awakening. “I cried,” Constantin recalled. “I cried because at the time I did nothing for anybody.” She felt prompted to move to Calcutta and live with the Sisters. Still a photographer at heart, she brought along her camera and film.
“Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”
-Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Constantin lived and worked alongside the sisters, which gave her unique opportunities to capture intimate scenes of their day-to-day life. She chose to focus on capturing the sisters’ acts of charity and service, rather than on scenes of suffering on the streets of Calcutta. Her photographs were little gifts to the sisters, images they could share with family and loved ones. And just as the joyful service of the sisters is a gift to the world, so too are Constantin’s photographs, which memorialize their sacrifice and remind us of Mother Teresa’s message of love.
“I know you want to know what i learned from running around with Mother Teresa and the sisters,” Constantin remarked. “I learned,” she continued, “to say yes to that tiny moment, and to realize that all of life is holy, not just big things, but that every single moment of all of life is holy.”
Marie Constantine’s photographs are on display on the second floor of the Canizaro Library through the end of February. For more information, and for visiting hours, visit the library’s webpage.