Mother Teresa (August 26, 1910 – September 5, 1997) was an Albanian Roman Catholic nun who founded the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata (Calcutta), India in 1950. For over forty years she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity's expansion, first throughout India and then in other countries.
By the 1970s she had become internationally famed as a humanitarian and advocate for the poor and helpless, due in part to a documentary, and book, Something Beautiful for God, by Malcolm Muggeridge. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her work. Missionaries of Charity continued to expand, and at the time of Mother Theresa's death it was operating 610 missions in 123 countries.
Following her death she was beatified by Pope John Paul II and given the title Blessed Teresa of Calcutta; however, both religious and nonreligious figures, notably Christopher Hitchens, have criticized her for her beliefs and her view that poverty and suffering are blessings.
While Mother Teresa remains an important modern religious figure, letters of confession she wrote over the course of 66 years, recently published in the book Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, suggest that her faith was not as solid as the world believed. In one of the letters she writes of Jesus:
- "...the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, — Listen and do not hear — the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak ... I want you to pray for me — that I let Him have [a] free hand."
Controversy remains on whether the letters were published against her wishes and whether her faith was as empty as her letters suggest.
- The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, written by Christopher Hitchens, 1995
- Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, compiled and edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk, Doubleday, 2007. ISBN 978-0385-52037-9
- "The Illusory vs The Real Mother Teresa", by Michael Hakeem, is a review of Christopher Hitchens' The Missionary Position (book)|The Missionary Position. Published in Freethought Today, August 1996.
- "Saint to the rich" in Salon.com, September 1997 and "Mommie Dearest" in Slate.com, 20 October 2003, both by Christopher Hitchens.
- "The squalid truth behind the legacy of Mother Teresa" by Donal MacIntyre in the New Statesman, August 22, 2005
- "Mother Teresa: Where are her millions?", Stern 10. September 1998.
- "Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict", by Aroup Chatterjee. Meteor Books, India (December 20, 2002)
- "Mother Teresa of Calcutta" by Sally Warner
- "Mother Teresa's House of Illusions" by Susan Shields
- "Mother Teresa, John Paul II, and the Fast-Track Saints" by Michael Parenti, CommonDreams.org, October 22, 2007