Marietta doctor recalls Mother Teresa
MARIETTA — An area doctor may have the opportunity to reconnect with one of his most famous patients when a relic of Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta comes to the Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption this week.
Joseph Mayo, MD, is a cardiologist who established a Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Marietta Memorial Hospital in 1987. Shortly before that, he placed two stents in the heart of the pint-sized and much-revered Indian woman in 1986, while he was working at a world-renowned cardiology center near Stanford University in Northern California.
Mayo has seen such high-profile clients as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clint Eastwood, George Carlin and several heads of state. But being in the same room as someone who would be canonized a saint after her death was “life-changing” for Mayo.
“I’ll never forget it,” he said. “I think somewhere along your life you start to question if there is a God, but after I met her, that was it.”
Mayo, always the professional, did not want to reveal too much about his famous patient but he did offer that when he was in the room with her, he felt a tremendous sense of peace.
“I was scared to death but as I got closer to her, I could just feel this energy coming from her. It was so peaceful and I felt like my hands were being controlled by someone else,” he said.
Mother Teresa kissed his hand and told Mayo, “It’s in God’s hands.”
The Rev. Mike Campbell, rector of the Basilica, is one of many area residents who has relied on the competent and skillful hands of Dr. Mayo. He wrote his praises in a letter that was submitted to The Marietta Times.
“I believe that he prolonged (Saint Mother Teresa’s) life and allowed her to keep doing her work,” said Campbell, who also received a couple stents a few years ago.
Mayo divides his time between Marietta, where he rents a home, and Columbus, where his permanent home is located. He has practiced for 32 years, 20-some of those being at Riverside Hospital. He has also been instrumental in Marietta Memorial being named one of the 100 Best Hospitals for Coronary Intervention in the U.S.
“We are so very fortunate to have him in Marietta,” Campbell said. “He is one of the finest cardiologists in America and he has helped so many in this area.”
Mother Teresa lived another 10 years after her procedure, when she died at the age of 87. She was canonized in 2016 by Pope Francis at the Vatican.
A relic from India — a piece of her body — will be received at the Basilica sometime this week and will join the likes of relics from Saint Pope John Paul II. The relic will be placed inside the altar and the public may view it at any time, though it is not a location that is out in the open.
While Mayo is a humble man, he does acknowledge that he might have an “in” with the man upstairs.
“I do joke with my kids that I’m pretty sure I’m going to get into heaven. It helps to know some powerful people,” he laughed.