Biographical Exploration

Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 290-297

First online:

Illness Narrative, Depression, and Sainthood: An Analysis of the Writings of Mother Teresa

  • S. Taylor WilliamsAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Tennessee Health Science Center Email author 

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In 2007, the letters of The Blessed Mother Teresa to her confessors were published for the public in a book entitled Come Be My Light. What surprised many readers was that Mother Teresa felt very distant from God and described feeling great “darkness” for many years. This paper draws parallels between the writings of Mother Teresa and those of writers’ illness narratives describing the psychiatric condition of Depression. The author provides this textual analysis to explore Mother Teresa’s experience within a psychiatric paradigm (Major Depressive Disorder), in comparison with and contrast to the spiritual paradigm of a “Dark Night of the Soul.”


Depression Mother Teresa Illness narrative Literary analysis