Holy Fathers Missioning Mother Teresa

P. Paul VI


Presentation of the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize (Vatican) to Mother Teresa,

dated 6th January 1971.

To our Beloved Daughter


Foundress of the Missionaries of Charity


With great pleasure we present for the first time this Peace Prize of Pope John XXIII, awarded to mark the celebration of the World Day of Peace 1971, and conferred an the feast of the Epiphany, in the presence of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See and of representatives of the Roman Curia.

We intend thus to honor the memory of our venerated predecessor, Pope John XXIII, to serve also the great cause of peace, and to encourage all those throughout the world who untiringly dedicate themselves to the relief of miseries of body and soul.

In the unforgettable remembrance of our apostolic pilgrimage to India, we invoke with all our heart abundant divine graces upon the work of charity which you perform each day with generosity in the name of Christ and we bestow on you our special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, January 6, 1971

sd/  Paulus P P. VI-



Most Holy Father,

Already in 1964, before leaving India after your visit, you have donated your white car to her as a mark of your appreciation and as an encouragement for the mission of Mother Teresa. Today, on this great day of the Epiphany, you are showing your appreciation in a special way for the great gift of love Mother Teresa has brought to our Dear Lord in the service of our neighbor. Today’s gesture and  its specific setting gives to her work a worldwide significance and a universal dimension. This year’s these for the Day of Peace “Every Man is My Brother” is made concrete in the services of Mother Teresa and her community. Your awarding the "Pope John XXIII's Peace Prize" to her is making this manifest.

On behalf of all those lives she has shared in their totality and of all those whom she has served, allow me to thank Your Holiness, for this great testimony of affection and appreciation for the work of Mother Teresa. By honoring her this day, Your Holiness is focusing the attention of the whole Church and of humanity to the fact that the worth of Christian life lies in the service of our neighbor and in that uncommon way of promoting human dignity, by which recognizes the value of each human person.

Spiritual teachers in India diffused the value of personal affection and taught that life is a state in which, much is to be endured and little to be enjoyed. This self-transcendence was a part of the perennial philosophy of India. The appreciation of each human life, even in circumstances when personal life seems intolerable to him is rendered valuable, by that personal affection Mother Teresa has given through her services. The spirit of the community she has founded, demands of its members, a cheerful disposition and cheerfulness with everyone. This is the basis of a human promotion which India appreciates is a special way in her example. In honoring Mother Teresa, Your Holiness is bringing new courage and new vision to those dedicated men and women who would identify their lives with a life of poverty lived in cheerfulness, that by the gift of their person, they would inspire a dignity in man because they see that in-spite of pain and misery, they are loved by someone and therefore, God loves them. Therefore, I would be echoing the sentiments of my compatriots in expressing deep gratitude for this recognition and the inner significance of the evangelical mission expressed on this special occasions.

Secretary of State






After the words which were spoken to announce the awarding of the International Peace Prize, named after our venerated predecessor, Pope John XXIII, to Mother Teresa here present, it my seem that everything has been said and that nothing remains except to give expression to the pleasure experienced in such a happy event. We do this by thanking those who have made the preparations, especially the Council of the Foundation, to which goes, the merit for the first conferment of this prize. We do this by greeting all those who are present at this simple and meaningful ceremony and then by manifesting our admiration for the one to whom the award is being made, as well as for her supporters and collaborators. We bless all of these from our heart. Everything thus seems accomplished. We might says: the meeting is over; in three years time, God willing, it will take place again; we do not know who will be present, but we do know that the ideal of peace will still be the reason for the gathering, since the foundation of the prize has a permanent character. For the moment, it seems, as we were sayings, that all accomplished.


And yet we realist that instead everything remains to be said. The addresses that we have listened to, the motivation just read regarding the conferment of the prize, the foundation and founder of the prize, the humble Sister to whom it is awarded, her work especially, and the historic, social and human context in which that work is done - everything indeed pertaining to this simple ceremony would be left to be commented on, to be re-thought and to be understood. Everything here is the object of reflection. We shall all do well to take away with us from this encounter a resolution to meditate. Hearts are full of stimuli to thought, and perhaps not only to thought but to action. Before all else, the Lord is to be thanked; it is he who has given us, amid the many difficulties and trying experiences at modern life, a consolation which is so real, so vital, so eloquent: good exists, it is operative, it prevails. What a comfort this is! What a lesson, what hope! Returning to the train of our thought which is quickly unraveled in the spirit of reflection, we realize that this comment would never end. Let us quickly choose a certain point of departure.


The first point is one of evaluation of our own action at this moment: is it really in conformity with the Christian spirit to award a public prize for good works? Should not these be guarded in the silence and humility which counsel us, in the words of the Gospel, not to let our left hand know the praiseworthy action done by our right hand, not to expect a reward from anyone other than from the Father who sees in secret the merited recompense? (Cf. Mt. 6: 3-4). That is true: good must be accomplished humbly, silently, without any motive of vanity or publicity; its reward must not be sought from men and in this world. Our Lord has taught this for those who do good, but he has also taught that a lamp is not to be placed beneath a bushel but on a lamp-stand, so that it may give light to all those in the house. He has added – and this will be pleasing to Mother Teresa’s modesty – that this giving of light must have two purposes, independent of the honor owed to the lamp-stand. One purpose is the edification of others, and the second is the glorification of the heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:15-16), from whom all good things come (James 1:17). That is our intention in awarding this prize - it is certainly also according to the wishes of Pope John - to transform a prize set up by him into a stable foundation that will stimulate a further good which must be fruitful and increase. There is reason to rejoice. This prize is awarded with the intention of seeing the productiveness and spread of good; it is presented to our attention and to that of the public with confidence in the power of good as an example.

And thus we are invited to another point of consoling and paradoxical reflection: that of the laws which govern the order of goodness. We are speaking of the law of humility, and we discover another one: good diffuses itself. Unfortunately, so does evil; the force of its contagion is powerful, with serious consequences (cf. Mt 18:7). But such is the case also with good. The work of Mother Teresa shows this. Once again the inexhaustible potential energies for good, the resources of the human heart, are unveiled. They are poured out and become operative when the leaven of personal sacrifice, as well as of courage, makes them, with God’s help, spring up and sets them to work. And here is another law of this wonderful order of goodness: it is at this very moment of its initial dynamic process that from a lack - in certain cases a total lack - of the temporal means of fulfilling it, good brings forth the means themselves. Poverty becomes the source of its riches; its emptiness is filled, with great efforts certainly, but in overflowing measure. The history of works of charity bears witness to this law. It is a game of providence; it is a phenomenon of human goodness and, to make itself manifest, it so often needs to be urged on by the necessity of others, which becomes a challenge to the one who has the genius for doing good and the charism of love.


These thoughts give rise to others. This, for example: when a charitable undertaking first begins to assess the needs it means to relieves, it discovers the frightening dimensions of those needs. Previously they were less keenly felt and more tolerated with passive resignation, perhaps because they were considered beyond assistance. Instead of experiencing joy when the first positive results are obtained, there is a feeling of being overwhelmed by the vast proportions of the evil that this charitable undertaking has had the temarity to tackle. One forward fearful of surrendering to the unworthy temptation to abandon the work undertaken in face of the inadequacy of the means available. One suffers, in suffering one goes on. It is suffering that becomes communion and, in the original sense of the word, compassion. Instead of exhausting the energy and the will to help - x by a further paradox of love - it is something that renews those energies makes them stable.


Then the charitable undertaking takes on a value that surpasses the merit of its concrete activity! It becomes a witness, a double witness, one that proclaims and denounces existing needs, needs which are ignored, forgotten, thought to be incurable. It places before public opinion the existence of a crying problem, one that is clear for all to see and which causes anguish. The other form of witness consists in the silent preaching of not only the necessity but the possibility of resolving the problem. This is something to marvel at. A new element has emerged. It is the superhuman motive that makes daring easy; the mystical and evangelical motive, that transfigures the countenance of a poor hungry person, a sickly child, a person repulsive with leprosy, a formidable criminal and a feeble man on his death-bed into the mysterious countenance of Christ. A certain spiritual charm attracts the Sister and the Brother who have voded their lives to love, for love has now become the higher motive that absorbs all the others however worthy they may be of human admiration. It to a motive that impels them all and raises than steadily up to the level of heroism.


Once more in the history of the church and in socity’s progress the Gospel is fulfilled and celebrated, and once more it kindles in man's hearts the joy that good brings the hope of the perfect life and the shining truth of the words of Irenaeus: "A living man is the glory of God" (Adveraus Haereses IV, 20, 7; PG 7, 1037).

All this, it seems to us, takes on great importance against the background of the modern world, that is, the striving for sincerity which mankind is asking today, as it reproaches itself for the immense worldwide needs that have arisen in modern society: ignorance, hunger, sickness, labor and the impermanence and dangers of society's very conquests. Today more than ever before, now that the universal conscience has been reawakened, there is need of immense energies of man for man, energies which the powerful and generous undertakings of the international community are bringing to bear. At the same time these very, undertakings themselves demand that the human ideal should not be obscured, but should rather have many new witnesses of its supreme value. The person whom we are honoring today is just such a witness to this supreme value: man, the image of God, the member of Christ and the mirror of the one who gazes and discovers there himself, finds here a brother.

Humble Mother Teresa, in whom we like to see the thousands and thousands of people dedicated full-time to the personal service of the most needy, becomes an example and symbol of the discovery, in which lies the secret of the world's peace, which we are all seeking. It is a discovery, ever up-to-date, that man is our brother. How can peace become possible, desirable and stable, unless we can base it, not on a balance of interests, powers and treaties, but on brotherhood among men? Brotherhood and peace are by nature synonymous. Both the one and the other a have common root - as we can clearly see - in love. And she who comes to us as the missionary of charity is the apostle of brotherhood and the messenger of peace. That is why we are awarding her the peace prize; and to those who share her aspirations and her labors we give our blessing.




© Copyright - L’ osservatore  Romano, 21 January 1971 p.2,3










Text © Mother Teresa Center of the Missionaries of Charity




Mother Teresa Center

3835 National Avenue

San Diego, CA 92113






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