The inspirational story of Mother Teresa and the multi-coloured rosary she gave to Jim Castle has given many people faith in the power of the rosary, and prayer.
Unfortunately, the tale of Mother Teresa and her multi-coloured rosary is really just a hoax, or at best – creative writing with false attribution to elicit false belief.
The Multi-Coloured Rosary Of Mother Teresa Hoax
First, let’s start with the story of Mother Teresa and her multi-coloured rosary that people have been sharing over the years.
Jim Castle was tired when he boarded his plane in Cincinnati, Ohio, that night in 1981.
The 45-year-old management consultant had put on a week long series of business meetings and seminars, and now he sank gratefully into his seat ready for the flight home to Kansas City, Kansas.
As more passengers entered, the place hummed with conversation, mixed with the sound of bags being stowed.
Then, suddenly, people fell silent. The quiet moved slowly up the aisle like an invisible wake behind a boat.
Jim craned his head to see what was happening, and his mouth dropped open.
Walking up the aisle were two nuns clad in simple white habits bordered in blue.
He recognized the familiar face of one at once, the wrinkled skin, and the eyes warmly intent. This was a face he’d seen in newscasts and on the cover of TIME.
The two nuns halted, and Jim realized that his seat companion was going to be Mother Teresa!
As the last few passengers settled in, Mother Teresa and her companion pulled out rosaries. Each decade of the beads was a different color, Jim noticed.
“The decades represented various areas of the world,” Mother Teresa told him later, and added, “I pray for the poor and dying on each continent..”
The airplane taxied to the runway and the two women began to pray, their voices a low murmur. Though Jim considered himself not a very religious Catholic who went to church mostly out of habit, inexplicably he found himself joining in. By the time they murmured the final prayer, the plane had reached cruising altitude.
Mother Teresa turned toward him. For the first time in his life, Jim understood what people meant when they spoke of a person possessing an ‘aura’….
As she gazed at him, a sense of peace filled him; he could no more see it than he could see the wind but he felt it, just as surely as he felt a warm summer breeze.
“Young man,” she inquired, “do you say the rosary often?”
“No, not really,” he admitted.
She took his hand, while her eyes probed his. Then she smiled.. “Well, you will now.”
And she dropped her rosary into his palm.
An hour later, Jim entered the Kansas City airport where he was met by his wife, Ruth.
“What in the world?” Ruth asked when she noticed the rosary in his hand. They kissed and Jim described his encounter.
Driving home, he said. “I feel as if I met a true sister of God..”
Nine months later, Jim and Ruth visited Connie, a friend of theirs for several years. Connie confessed that she’d been told she had ovarian cancer. “The doctor says it’s a tough case,” said Connie, “but I’m going to fight it. I won’t give up.”
Jim clasped her hand. Then, after reaching into his pocket, he gently twined Mother Teresa’s rosary around her fingers. He told her the story and said, “Keep it with you, Connie. It may help.”
Although Connie wasn’t Catholic, her hand closed willingly around the small plastic beads.
“Thank you,” she whispered. “I hope I can return it.”
More than a year passed before Jim saw Connie again. This time her face was glowing, she hurried toward him and handed him the rosary.
“I carried it with me all year,” she said. “I’ve had surgery and have been on chemotherapy, too. Last month, the doctors did second-look surgery, and the tumor’s gone. Completely!”
Her eyes met Jim’s. “I knew it was time to give the rosary back.”
In the fall of 1987, Ruth’s sister, Liz, fell into a deep depression after her divorce. She asked Jim if she could borrow the rosary, and when he sent it, she hung it over her bedpost in a small velvet bag.
“At night I held on to it, just physically held on. I was so lonely and afraid,” she says, “yet when I gripped that rosary, I felt as if I held a loving hand.”
Gradually, Liz pulled her life together, and she mailed the rosary back. “Someone else may need it,” she said.
Then one night in 1988, a stranger telephoned Ruth. She’d heard about the rosary from a neighbor and asked if she could borrow it to take to the hospital where her mother lay in a coma. The family hoped the rosary might help their mother die peacefully.
A few days later, the woman returned the beads.
“The nurses told me a coma patient can still hear,” she said, “so I explained to my mother that I had Mother Teresa’s rosary and that when I gave it to her, she could let go; it would be all rosary in her hand.”
“Right away, we saw her face relaxed. The lines smoothed out until she looked so peaceful, so young. A few minutes later, she was gone.”
Fervently, the woman gripped Ruth’s hands. “Thank you.”
Is there special power in those humble beads? Or is the power of the human spirit simply renewed in each person who borrows the rosary?
Jim only knows that requests continue to come, often unexpectedly.
He always responds though, whenever he lends the rosary, “When you’re through needing it, send it back. Someone else may need it.”
Jim’s own life has changed, too, since his unexpected meeting on the airplane. When he realized Mother Teresa carries everything she owns in a small bag, he made an effort to simplify his own life.
“I try to remember what really counts – not money or titles or possessions, but the way we love others,” he says.
May God bless you abundantly. May Mother Mary ask her Son Jesus to shower you with grace.
Please feel free to pass this on, especially to all those in despair so that they might know that they are not alone in their hour of need..
I sent you this because I know the power of the prayers of these simple beads and I wanted to share it with you.
Every sacrifice has a fruitful reward. Every failure has a second chance. We only have to be strong through God’s grace and persevere in life’s many tests!
The Multi-Coloured Rosary Of Mother Teresa Hoax Debunked!
Now, you may be wondering – how do you know it’s not true? Were you on the same plane with Jim Castle and Mother Teresa? Do you even know Jim Castle?
Here are the reasons why the story is really just a piece of creative writing, designed to evoke a false belief in the rosary and prayer.
Fact #1 : Mother Teresa Did Not Have A Multi-Coloured Rosary
Surprisingly, many “fans” of Mother Teresa did not seem to realise that she did not own a multi-coloured rosary.
In photos of Mother Teresa with a rosary – they do not appear to be multi-coloured.
This picture of her rosary was taken by Vincenzo Pinto of AFP on 1 September 2016. As you can see, the beads are not coloured, and appear to be made of wood.
Could Mother Teresa have “upgraded” to a new rosary with wood beads, after passing her plastic rosary to Jim Castle?
Now, the Good Shepherd Parish in Shawnee, Kansas, claimed that the Jim Castle donated the rosary he received from Mother Teresa to them sometime in 2005.
“He asked that it be shared with hurting or sick parishioners,” explained pastor Father Francis Hund.
Unfortunately, the only photo we could find was this greyscale photo from the 27 March 2009 issue of The Leaven :
Ironically, even though The Leaven was printed in colour, they somehow chose to post a grayscale photo of the multi-coloured rosary of Mother Teresa.
You would have expected The Leaven to publish the photo of such an important relic in colour… but even in grayscale, we can see that the beads are all of the same colour.
Assuming that a businessman called Jim Castle did indeed encounter Mother Teresa on a flight to Kansas City in 1981, and he received that plastic rosary from her, it does not appear to be multi-coloured.
Fact #2 : Rosary Decades Do NOT Represent Areas / Continents
Genuine Catholics should know that the rosary decades – sets of ten beads – are meant to help them count the number of prayers.
Each decade of ten Hail Marys is preceded by a Lord’s Prayer and a Glory Be. Five decades are recited for every rosary.
It would not be likely for Mother Teresa to forget the “purpose” of the decade, and to claim that each decade was praying for a different region or continent.
Fact #3 : It Was Written By Barbara Bartocci
The story was published as “A Gift from the Woman in White” in Catholic Digest in March 1991, and then credited to Barbara Bartocci in Chicken Soup for the Working Woman’s Soul (US | UK | AU) in 2003.
Barbara Bartocci, incidentally, has a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing and used to write for Hallmark Cards…
Ironically, it was apparently plagiarised by Matthew Kelly in his book – Rediscover Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion & Purpose (US | UK | AU).
As one reader, Robert Zeh, pointed out :
After reading the rosary chapter, I was so intrigued by Jim Castle’s encounter with Mother Teresa that I googled “Jim Castle”, to see if there was more to his story. What I found instead is that pages 271-273 in “Rediscovering Catholicism” match “A Gift from the Woman in White” in “Chicken Soup for the Working Woman’s Soul” (by Barbara Bartocci) — although “A Gift from the Woman in White” was published earlier by Catholic Digest.
Flipping back to the historical section on Mother Teresa, and reading page 97, I googled “She was happy in her work and well liked”, only to discover the same phrase on page 19 of “Mother Teresa: a Complete Authorized Biography” by Kathryn Spink. The surrounding paragraphs between both books show many similarities.
Fact #4 : The Rosary Was Not Considered In Her Canonisation
For Mother Teresa to be canonised, she must be responsible for at least TWO miracles AFTER her death. That means relics or items she touched or owned must be able to produce miracles.
This would certainly include her purported rosary, which has been used by the Good Shepherd Parish since 2005.
Yet, it does not appear to have been mentioned in any of the many cases of reported miracles that were submitted to the Catholic Church’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
In fact, it appears as if the Good Shepherd considers it to be a religious placebo of sorts, rather than a genuine relic :
“We can’t say we have miracles from it as an object, but we do have comfort and assurance that God is still with us,” said Good Shepherd’s director of Caring Ministry, Bernadine Asher. “We attribute the power to trust in God.”
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