Everyone is encouraged to wear blue and white in honor of Mother Teresa’s canonization on Sunday, September 4! Mother Teresa’s plain white sari with three blue borders, which is still worn by the nuns of the Missionaries of Charity (the Order Mother founded in 1950) has an interesting story behind it (learn more here, highlights mentioned below).
Sr. Gertrude, the second nun to join the Missionaries of Charity, recollected that “Mother [Teresa] selected the blue border, for we associate the colour blue with Mother Mary. It stands for purity. Also in those days women who swept the streets used to wear a similar kind of a sari. So Mother [Teresa] adopted a religious dress that was both symbolic and practical – it not only helped to identify ourselves with the poor but was also suitable to Calcutta’s searing climate.” In the evening of 17 August, 1948, Mother wore one of the saris for the first time when she moved out of the Loreto Convent at Entally. The first 2 saris were blessed by Father van Exem, Mother Teresa’s spiritual director. When the Missionaries of Charity grew beyond the number of saris that could be bought from the original source, a roadside stand on Harrison Road near Howrah (West Bengal, India), they commissioned the work to be done by out of work leprosy patients by buying them looms and teaching them to weave.
- white – stands for truth and purity
- the three blue borders each signify the vows that the nuns of the Order take: the first band represents Poverty, the second Obedience and the third broad band represents the vows of Chastity and of Wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor
- The Cross worn on the left shoulder symbolizes that Jesus on the Cross is the key to the heart
Novices (prospective member of the religious order) wear white saris without the three blue stripes. When they are ready to take vows after four years of formation, they receive the blue-striped sari of the Congregation. Each sister possesses only three saris.