Mother Teresa Quotes

Saint Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997)

Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa. Religious Images/UIG PREMIUM/Getty Images

Mother Teresa, born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Yugoslavia (see note below), felt a calling early to serve the poor. She joined an Irish order of nuns serving in Calcutta, India, and received medical training in Ireland and India. She founded the Missionaries of Charity and focused on serving the dying, with many other projects as well. She was able to garner considerable publicity for her work which also translated into successfully financing the expansion of the order's services.

Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. She died in 1997 after long illnesses. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 19, 2003, and canonized by Pope Francis on September 4, 2016.

Related: Women Saints: Doctors of the Church

Selected Mother Teresa Quotations

• Love is doing small things with great love.

• I believe in love and compassion.

• Because we cannot see Christ, we cannot express our love to him, but our neighbors we can always see, and we can do to them what if we saw him we would like to do to Christ.

• "I will be a saint" means I will despoil myself of all that is not God; I will strip my heart of all created things; I will live in poverty and detachment; I will renounce my will, my inclinations, my whims and fancies, and make myself a willing slave to the will of God.

• Do not wait for leaders. Do it alone, person to person.

• Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.

• We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.

• Suffering is a great gift of God.

• There is a terrible hunger for love. We all experience that in our lives--the pain, the loneliness.

We must have the courage to recognize it. The poor you may have right in your own family. Find them. Love them.

• There should be less talk. A preaching point is not a meeting point.

• The dying, the cripple, the mental, the unwanted, the unloved-- they are Jesus in disguise.

• In the West there is loneliness, which I call the leprosy of the West. In many ways it is worse than our poor in Calcutta. (Commonweal, Dec 19, 1997)

• It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing. It is not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving.

• The poor give us much more than we give them. They're such strong people, living day to day with no food. and they never curse, never complain. We don't have to give them pity or sympathy. We have so much to learn from them.

• I see God in every human being. When I wash the leper's wounds, I feel I am nursing the Lord himself. Is it not a beautiful experience?

• I do not pray for success. I ask for faithfulness.

• God does not call us to be successful. He calls us to be faithful.

• The silence is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear. The tongue moves in prayer but does not speak. [letter, 1979]

• Let us not be satisfied with just giving money.

Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.

• If you judge people, you have no time to love them.

Note on Mother Teresa's birthplace: she was born in Uskub in the Ottoman Empire. This later became Skopje, Yugoslavia, and is now Skopje, Republic of Macedonia.

About These Quotes

Quote collection assembled by Jone Johnson Lewis. This is an informal collection assembled over many years. I regret that I am not be able to provide the original source if it is not listed with the quote.