The popular appeal of the strong, intelligent Saint Teresa of Avila, combined with the selfless compassion of the more recent Mother Teresa, have fused to give this second-tier classic a somewhat noble, religious image. Although the origins of the name are uncertain, it has been prevalent particularly in forms Theresa, Teresa, and Therese throughout Europe for centuries.
Mother Teresa was born Anjeze/Agnese Gonxhe; when taking her vows, she chose to be named after Thérèse de Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries, but because another nun in the convent had already chosen that name, she opted for the Spanish spelling Teresa.
A Top 100 name until the 1960s, reaching Number 32 in 1956, Theresa fell off the list completely in 2011, while the sleeker Teresa still holds at Number 608; it was as high as Number 18 from 1961 to 1963.
Currently, a leading character on The Mentalist is Teresa Lisbon.
Short forms Tess,Tessa, Tressa or Tea are more popular now than the old Terry or Tracy. An interesting variation is Tereza, as in Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being.