The Vatican will anticipate the canonization of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata with a special postage stamp, which will be released Sept. 2, two days before Pope Francis officially declares her a saint.
The Vatican Philatelic and Numismatic Office announced the stamp's release Aug. 5 and distributed initial images of it.
The 95-cent stamp features a wrinkled but radiant Mother Teresa smiling in her blue-trimmed, white sari. Overlaid on the design by Patrizio Daniele is another image of her holding the hand of a small child.
Pope Francis will declare Blessed Teresa of Kolkata a saint at the Vatican Sept. 4.
The date was announced March 15 during an "ordinary public consistory," a meeting of the pope, cardinals and promoters of sainthood causes that formally ends the sainthood process.
"Frail but equally determined in her vocation, Mother Teresa loved God and the church with great strength, simplicity and extraordinary humility, glorifying with her life the dignity of a most humble service," said the brochure announcing the stamp's release.
"She was a humble messenger of the Gospel and of Christ's love, known as 'a small pencil in the hands of the Lord,' doing her work quietly and always with great love," it said. "She assisted the poor, the sick and the abandoned with tireless dedication, offering smiles and simple gestures, finding strength to persevere with her vocation through prayer and trust in God."
The philatelic office said it would print and sell a maximum of 150,000 sheets of 10 stamps each.
Mother Teresa was widely known as a living saint as she ministered to the sick and the dying in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the world. Although some people criticized her for not also challenging the injustices that kept so many people so poor and abandoned, her simple service touched the hearts of millions of people of all faiths.
Born to an ethnic Albanian family in Skopje, in what is now part of Macedonia, she went to India in 1929 as a Sister of Loreto and became an Indian citizen in 1947. She founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950.
Shortly after she died in 1997, St. John Paul II waived the usual five-year waiting period and allowed the opening of the process to declare her sainthood. She was beatified in 2003.
After her beatification, Missionary of Charity Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, the postulator of her sainthood cause, published a book of her letters, "Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light." The letters illustrated how, for decades, she experienced what is described as a "dark night of the soul" in Christian spirituality; she felt that God had abandoned her. While the letters shocked some people, others saw them as proof of her steadfast faith in God, which was not based on feelings or signs that he was with her.
The date chosen for her canonization is the eve of the 19th anniversary of her death and the date previously established at the Vatican for the conclusion of the Year of Mercy pilgrimage of people like her who are engaged in works of mercy.