As the countdown begins to the canonization of Mother Teresa, various groups will celebrate the joyous event in different ways. Pascal Lopes, a numismatist from Vasai, has built an enviable collection of 100 stamps based on her from all parts of the world.
Mother Teresa will be declared a saint by the Vatican on September 4. External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj will represent India at the ceremony. Pascal has taken a Masters degree in Numismatics and Archaeology. He says, “I was always attracted to the saintly persona of Mother Teresa and her humanitarian activities. The more I read the more I became interested. The first stamp of her that I acquired was printed in 1980. I bought 40 sheets of stamps a few years later. In fact, some of my friends offered to pay Rs 300 for stamps costing Rs 45. This proves that her magnetic charm exists even decades after her death.”
Mother Teresa, he says, was the first living Indian to be honoured with a stamp by India Post in 1980. “Since then of course, Sachin Tendulkar’s picture has been imprinted on a postal ticket. The stamp bears her portrait along with the facsimile of the reverse of the Nobel Peace Prize medallion.”
He has 2,000 coins in his armoury as well. “The Indian government issued two coins during her birth centenary, one whose face value is Rs 100 and another of five rupee denomination. The postal department issued a 45-rupee speed post souvenir sheet in 1997, as well as first day covers, covers, postcards and a brochure,” says Pascal.
“The Saint of the Gutters, as she was called, was honoured over the years, during the Nobel Prize presentation in 1980, Women’s Day, 21 Years of Speed Post, 60 years of India’s Independence as well as 60 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights where Mother appeared along with Mahatma Gandhi. A host of countries like Liberia, Malta, Uganda, The Turks and Caicos Island and USA have also issued coins or stamps in Mother Teresa’s name,” he says. This collector has sourced his hoard from like-minded friends, exhibitions and auctions. Pascal is currently pursuing a research project on Indian Portuguese coins.