D.C. gets a sneak peek at Mother Teresa portrait ahead of sainthood

The DMV got a little closer to sainthood today.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - Renowned artist, Chas Fagen, has painted every U.S. president, he’s sculpted Pope John Paul II, and on Wednesday, he unveiled his portrait of Mother Teresa at the John Paul II National Shrine in Northeast D.C.

On Sunday, Mother Teresa will be declared a saint at a mass led by Pope Francis at Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. The portrait will be displayed on the facade.

"Every artist dreams of someday creating a piece of art that the viewer reacts to with emotion,” the North Carolina-based artist said. “And when your subject matter is Mother Teresa, that's gonna happen!"

The portrait was commissioned by the Knights of Columbus, as a gift to the Missionaries of Charity, the order founded by Mother Teresa in 1950.

It took Fagen eight weeks to paint Mother Teresa's likeness.

"I feel like I know her better but having never met her, I have that disadvantage,” he said. “In the end, I was hoping to communicate some of that power that she had as such a diminutive lady."

Fagen said in order to capture her glow, he painted the background in several colors to create darkness. He did research, and eventually talked to a photographer who captured her likeness for more than 15 years.

"We found the face in one photograph, hands in another, pose in another and pieced it together and in the end it came together as a unique piece," Fagen said.

Fagen said it was tough to complete the project and move on to the next.

"My wife says it’s like postpartum for me every time,” he said. “And it's true, it's very hard to say goodbye."


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