Skip to content

Which is it? Saint Teresa of Calcutta or Mother Teresa of Kolkata

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
9/6/2016 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (

Name change has people confused.

There is confusion over the proper title of Mother Teresa. Her name is appearing in the media as both "Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta" and "Mother Teresa of Kolkata," sometimes written with the word "Mother" and sometimes without. Which is correct?

The icon of Saint Teresa of Calcutta.

The icon of Saint Teresa of Calcutta.


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The correct title for Mother Teresa is now, "Saint Teresa of Calcutta." The Vatican has confirmed this fact.

The mother is dropped from her official title and is replaced with the title of saint. The city name is spelled "Calcutta."

Here's why so many people are confused.

When a person is recognized as a saint, their former titles mean very little. Popes, Mothers, Fathers, and such are earthly titles which are worth very little when compared to sainthood. One might compare it to an Olympic athlete who wins a gold medal. Suddenly, their high school accomplishments mean little. Or a professor who may have several lower degrees on their wall, but is only referred to as doctor, with the lesser degrees dropped.

As for the name of her city, it is Calcutta. In 2001, Calcutta changed its name to Kolkata to more closely match its native pronunciation. Calcutta was the Anglicized version of the city's name, but the English have been gone for nearly three generations.

Despite the name change, Mother Teresa died in 1997 when the city was still named Calcutta. As a result, the proper name for her is now Saint Teresa of Calcutta.

A good way to understand this is to think of the city of Constantinople. This legendary city is today known as Istanbul. It was previously known as Byzantium. Several saints have "of Constantinople" in their titles. It would make little sense to change these titles to "of Istabul." The saints lived and died when the city was named Constantinople, so their title reflects that fact.

If Calcutta had changed its name to Kolkata before Saint Teresa's earthly passing, she would likely be known as Saint Teresa of Kolkata. However, this is not the case.


'Help Give every Student and Teacher FREE resources for a world-class Moral Catholic Education'

Copyright 2019 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK


More Christian Saints & Heroes

This princess saint was not Harry Potter's owl: St. Hedwig of Silesia Watch

Image of St. Hedwig of Silesia

Readers who find this story through a search engine probably were looking for information about Hedwig, Harry Potter's snowy owl. Wroclaw, ... continue reading

These are the four women being canonized with John Henry Newman Watch

Image of Banners at St. Peters Square of the future saints

Pope Francis will canonize four women alongside John Henry Newman this Sunday. These women -- a stigmatist, a mystic, a Roman orphan, and ... continue reading

Will the real St. Francis please stand up? Watch

Image of St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi is widely known for his life of poverty and love of creation. But there's a lesser known side to the friar as well a ... continue reading

This secular Franciscan lived among lepers. Could he become Zimbabwe's first saint? Watch

Image of John Bradburne

British-born John Bradburne, who died in Zimbabwe 40 years ago, could be on his way to becoming the country's first canonized saint. ... continue reading

Padre Pio carried Christ crucified in his flesh, Capuchin minister general says Watch

Image of Padre Pio

Padre Pio, who had the physical marks of Christ's passion on his body, showed Christ crucified to the world, Minister General Fr. Roberto ... continue reading

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.