News24

Mother Teresa 'was tormented'

2007-08-25 17:09

Kolkata - Mother Teresa experienced "emptiness" like any human, and the revealing letters she shared with her colleagues portrayed her humility, said the Archbishop of Kolkata, where the nun lived most of her life.

A book of letters written by Mother Teresa of Calcutta - now Kolkata - has revealed that she was deeply tormented about her faith and suffered periods of doubt about God.

"Despite facing the negative side of life, she remained steadfast on her way to holiness, such was her greatness," Reverend Lucas Sircar, who knew her for decades, told Reuters.

Due out on September 4, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, is a collection of letters written to colleagues and superiors over 66 years and complied by an advocate for her sainthood.

In 1956, in one of her letters, she wrote: "Such deep longing for God - and ... repulsed - empty - no faith - no love - no zeal."

Those in Kolkata who were close to the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize winner said she had overcome "emptiness" and "doubts", and continued to spread the message of God and love to the poor and ailing until her death in 1997, aged 87.

"Every person at one point in life feels some sort of emptiness, darkness or hollowness, which is the darker side of that person," Sircar said.

"In spite of all temptations, she overcame them, and it was her humility that she shared her weaker side with others in her letters."

The ethnic Albanian Roman Catholic nun dedicated her life to serving the sick, poor and dying in India, particularly in Kolkata, headquarters of the global Missionaries of Charity order she founded in 1950.

Mother Teresa was beatified in 2003 but not yet been canonised by the Vatican.

The archbishop said saints like Saint Paul of the Cross or Saint Augustine had experienced "similar trials" and "hollowness" in their lives like Mother Teresa.

The Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata declined to comment on the letters or on Mother Teresa's faith.

Recalling the nun's last days, her physician Tarun Kumar Praharaj said she told him that she saw God everywhere.

"She would always ask me to help the poor and said she was fine, when she was not, and wanted to help a sick child even from her hospital bed," Praharaj, a cardiologist, said.

Sunita Kumar, a social activist who knew Mother Teresa for many years, said the nun had tremendous faith in God and that her letters revealed only her "natural self".

"After all, Mother Teresa was like any other human who in crisis wishes to see God," Kumar said.