Finding parking is a pain for anyone – including St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  In July 1997, just months before her death, the 86-year old saint made a trip to New York City – in part to take care of her sisters’ parking woes.

Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photo Office

Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photo Office

The main purpose of the trip was to to help the ministry of the South Bronx convent of the Missionaries of Charities, who worked heavily with AIDS patients. While in the city, though, she surprised then-mayor Rudy Giuliani with a seemingly strange request: more parking permits.

For their work, the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity travelled all over the city to minister to the poor and dying in hospitals and in other sites dedicated to the poor. However, the sisters still needed to park when they got there.


In New York City – which boasts some of the most expensive land in the country – parking, particularly free parking, can be hard to find. The New York City government, however, has a workaround for special groups of people who are teachers, diplomats, clergy, or members of non-profit organizations and can dispense special parking permits that allow temporary free parking in areas that otherwise are illegal, “No Parking” zones.

Yet, these permits can be hard to come by, in part because they’re supposed to be for special circumstances.

Of course, the mission of a then-living saint and Nobel Peace Prize surely qualifies as a special circumstance.

According to the New York Times, Mayor Giuliani just couldn’t turn her down:

”I would do anything Mother Teresa wanted,” he said. ”If Mother Teresa wants more parking, she can have more parking.”

“If she wants more buildings, as she does, we will find more buildings for her. Anything she asks me for she can get, because I have confidence that it is going to be used for the benefit of people.”

In return, Mother Teresa gave the mayor a handwritten note saying “God Bless You” and a religious medal.


This was the second time Mother Teresa intervened with a New York mayor for parking aid: previously, in 1987, she asked then-Mayor Ed Koch for two parking spaces near the AIDS hospice the Missionaries of Charity ran in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.

Moral of the story: sometimes if you need luck finding a parking space, it helps to know a saint!