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Disturbing Facts and Stories That Will Change How You See Mother Teresa

Updated November 29, 2018 597.6k views12 items

In 1995, the late author and social critic Christopher Hitchens wrote a Mother Teresa takedown with his The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, a lean, 98-page argument against the "cult" of the famous nun and current saint. The book is full of disturbing purported Mother Teresa facts and unsettling anecdotes, but it's far from the only takedown like this available. 

Since the publication of Hitchens's book, plenty of Mother Teresa stories have circulated, partially perpetuated by an exhaustive 2013 study by scholars at the Université de Montréal. Read on for stories that may cause some to rethink their views about this well-known religious figure. 

  • She Seemed To Suffer A Major Crisis Of Faith During The Latter Part Of Her Life

    Photo: Suma Iyer / Wikimedia Commons/CC 4.0

    Many people view Mother Teresa as an incredibly pious figure. Her work and words seemed divinely blessed. However, the religious figurehead seemed to struggle immensely with her personal faith. Reverend Michael van der Peet served as Mother Teresa's comrade during those times of wavering spirituality. In fact, in September of 1979, the woman who the Vatican wanted sainted wrote van der Peet a letter confessing the emptiness surrounding her spiritual life.

    She wrote:: 

    "Jesus has a very special love for you... [But] as for me, 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."

  • Despite Millions In Donations, Her Clinics Were Short On Supplies

    Photo: Manfredo Ferrari / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    Mother Teresa's organization, the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, received hundreds of millions of dollars in donations while she was alive. However, former volunteers allege shortage of supplies and medications at her clinics. In his book, Hitchens wrote: "[the] point is not the honest relief of suffering but the promulgation of a cult based on death and suffering and subjugation."

  • Hygiene At Her Clinics Was A Major Issue

    Photo: Achilli Family | Journeys / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Mother Teresa's clinics were run by volunteers, and despite providing medical care to the poor, they were not hospitals. As such, there have been widespread claims of "haphazard" conditions at some of the clinics. 

    Hitchens posited in his book that the decision to to run a "haphazard and cranky institution which would expose itself to litigation and protest were it run by any branch of the medical profession is a deliberate one," meant to promulgate Teresa's "cult" of death and suffering.


  • She Received Her Personal Medical Care In California – Not Her Clinics

    Photo: Maharashtrapolipics / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY SA 4.0

    Despite access to a wide range of her own clinics across the globe, Mother Teresa herself "checked into some of the finest and costliest clinics and hospitals in the West during her bouts with heart trouble and old age," preferring a clinic in California.