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Why did Mother Teresa change her name?


Jyotiai | Shutterstock


Philip Kosloski - published on 09/04/23

St. Teresa of Calcutta's baptismal name was Agnes, but when she became a religious sister she chose "Teresa."

While many recognize Mother Teresa’s name, few know that she didn’t always have that name. In fact, she was born with a different name.

St. Teresa was born in Albania with the name Anjezë, which is translated into English as, “Agnes.” She was baptized the day after her birth with that name and kept it until she became a religious sister.

In 1928, Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu joined the Sisters of Loreto at Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham, Ireland. After her novitiate, she made her first vows on May 24, 1931, and was given the choice of which religious name she wanted.

Throughout her life Agnes was attracted to the life of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, a French Carmelite nun who was named the patron saint of missionaries.

She felt drawn to her “little way” and chose the Spanish spelling of Thérèse, “Teresa.”

It is quite evident that she remained close to St. Thérèse, as can be seen by these quotes that the Society of the Little Flower shares on their website.

“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”– Mother Teresa

“Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant count as nothing.” – St. Thérèse of Lisieux

 “Our vocation is the love of Jesus.”
– Mother Teresa

“My vocation is love.”
– St. Thérèse of Lisieux

St. Teresa would eventually found the Missionaries of Charity, which again recalls St. Thérèse’s special connection to all missionaries in the Catholic Church.

Both saints were of the same heart and mind, even though the lived decades apart and on different continents.

Mother TeresaSaints
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