Aleksandra Zapotoczny

Canonization of Mother Theresa from Calcutta will take place on 4 September and it will be one of the most important events of the Year of Mercy.

When we reminisce Mother Theresa, we see the person in a white sari, bending over the poor in the streets of Calcutta. This nun is the laureate of national, international awards, and also of the highest distinctions, including the Peace Noble Prize (1979). Throughout her life she worked, helping people, appealing for respecting the human dignity, opposing to abortion, euthanasia and contraception. The Order of Love Missionaries, established by her, set off from India to the whole world, setting up orphanages and hospices. Also a masculine branch of Love Missionaries’ Brothers was also established. Mother Theresa also left her sign in Rome, together with John Paul II, with whom she had been in a great friendship, and they established a shelter for the homeless ‘Mary’s Gift’ in 1988.

is the only living relative of Mother Theresa from Calcutta, a daughter of Lazar, brother of Mother Theresa. Being married to an Italian citizen, she lives in Sicilia. It was her who was accompanying her auntie in her journey to Oslo where the nun received the Noble Prize. Every time when Mother Theresa arrived at Italy, her niece was trying to meet her despite the fact that during their meetings they prayed more often than talked….

– How do you reminisce your auntie?

– At once I think about her love which she expressed to me, and, mainly, to my father, her brother older than her by two years. Mother Theresa and my dad were in a deeply emotional relationship with each other. I met her personally in 1966, earlier I had known her only from stories told by my father. When they were children she used to help him with housework, and he used to prepare her meals. Then they wrote letters to each other.
Although she was not present at his death, but she had visited him a few months before he died. As for the meeting, I remember a very funny situation. My father was lying in a Roman clinic and she embraced him cordially, saying that he must have been happy as in a while he would see Jesus. My father joked: ‘Maybe you would like to swap up with me, and you will go to Him, and I will stay here’.When we met after his death, Mother Theresa invited me to her room which had never happened before, as she never used to open the door to anybody out of the cloister. We sat down, she embraced me, took my hand saying that only us had remained from our big family.

– You often say that you are afraid of speaking about your auntie, not to diminish her person; Maybe, looking at this humble sister we forget that she was a very educated woman…

– Yes, that is true, Mother Theresa was an educated person, like the generations of our whole family. Moreover, my auntie had conditions to get educated. She came from a good family, being loved and cared of by her parents. Her family was on a very good level. All children studied, my father studied in France, Italy, similarly as his sisters, Agnes – Mother Theresa and Age. The rules of my family were discipline and prayer. Mother Theresa was not a dilettante at all. She was very intelligent and used this subtle irony. She could use strong words when a situation required them.

– What were you thinking about when looking at your auntie, bending over the ill or receiving the Noble Prize?

– Every time I realized the fact that her life was devoted to other people, every time one could see that she did a hard work, when washing the ill or washing their bedsheets in hands. Mother Theresa did it very easily and energetically, and, although I am younger than her, cannot do so. When we went to receive the Noble Prize, it was an emotional moment also for her. In the country in which abortion was an everyday procedure at that time, Mother Theresa said this sentence: ‘Please, give me the children whom you do not want, and I will bring them up’.

– Mother Theresa always had a rosary with her…

– Yes, she had it in hands. Whenever she had free time, she prayed, especially in a car, or on her way to the cloister. Mother Theresa used to come to Rome, in May for convent vows, and she had a lot of meetings with sisters, and, in order to spend time with her, I often accompanied her. We used to set off at 7.00 in the morning and come back in the late evening. Every time when we stopped talking in a car, Mother Theresa used to say the rosary prayer.

– What message did Mother Theresa give to us?

– She said a lot of sentences, which were collected and translated into many languages. For me, personally, her thought about family is dear to me, according to which family is the centre of the world. She used to say that during a prayer we are able to strengthen our marriage knot. The fact that we are parents makes us responsible for our children and them for us.

– How would you describe the relationship between Mother Theresa and John Paul II?

– The relationship was very friendly; they understood and cared about each Rother. It was a meeting of mainly their ideas. It happens in life very rarely, when two people have such a harmony of values, ideas, lifestyle. They saw the world with the eyes of love and they also saw it as real. And what surprised me the most during the beatification of Mother Theresa, when I was carrying a chalice as a gift to the altar, I looked at the eyes of pope John Paul II and I noticed that he had the same color of his eyes as Mother Theresa.
During the last stay of my auntie in hospital I was a witness of many phone calls from Pope. Every time when I was at her bed, John Paul II called her to ask about her health. And she collected big and small rosaries and small phosphorescent plastic figures of Our Lady for him. She used to say that the Pope would like them so, she had to send them to him. Having the auntie in Heaven is something unusual, I pray to her every evening before going to sleep. She is my light, my star, my angel the guardian.


„Niedziela” 35/2016

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: