Mother Teresa (Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu) was born on August 26, 1910 in Skopje, the current capital of the Republic of Macedonia, The following day, she was baptized as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. Her parents, Nikola and Dranafile Bojaxhiu, were of Albanian descent; her father was an entrepreneur who worked as a construction contractor and a trader of medicines and other goods.

The Bojaxhius were a devoutly Catholic family, and Nikola was deeply involved in the local church as well as in city politics as a vocal proponent of Albanian independence.

In 1919, when Agnes was only 8 years old, her father suddenly fell ill and died. While the cause of his death remains unknown, many have speculated that political enemies poisoned him.

After her father’s death, Agnes became extraordinarily close to her mother, a pious and compassionate woman who instilled in her daughter a deep commitment to charity.

Although by no means wealthy, Drana Bojaxhiu extended an open invitation to the city’s destitute to dine with her family. Just as they were eating her mother told her what she never forgot even to her death.”My child, never eat a single mouthful unless you are sharing it with others” she counseled her daughter. When Agnes asked who the people eating with them were, her mother uniformly responded,”Some of them are our relations, but all of them are our people.”

Agnes attended a convent-run primary school and then a state-run secondary school. As a girl, she sang in the local Sacred Heart choir and was often asked to sing solos.

The congregation made an annual pilgrimage to the Church of the Black Madonna in Letnice.

it was on one such trip at the age of 12 that she first felt a calling to a religious life.

she felt strongly the call of God. She knew she had to be a missionary to spread the love of Christ. At the age of eighteen she left her parental home in Skopje after she decided to become a nun and joined the Sisters of Loreto, an Irish community of nuns with missions in India.

After a few months’ training in Dublin she was sent to India.

Sister Mary Teresa traveled on to Darjeeling, India, for the novitiate period, where on May 24, 1931, she took her initial vows as a nun and also It was there that she took the name Sister Mary Teresa after Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.

Afterward she was sent to Calcutta, where she was assigned to teach at Saint Mary’s High School for Girls, a school run by the Loreto Sisters and dedicated to teaching girls from the city’s poorest Bengali families.

Sister Teresa learned to speak both Bengali and Hindi fluently as she taught geography and history and dedicated herself to alleviating the girls’ poverty through education.

 

On May 24, 1937, she took her Final Profession of Vows to a life of poverty, chastity and obedience. As was the custom for Loreto nuns, she took on the title of “Mother” upon making her final vows and thus became known as Mother Teresa.

Mother Teresa continued to teach at Saint Mary’s, and in 1944 she became the school’s principal. Through her kindness, generosity and unfailing commitment to her students’ education, she sought to lead them to a life of devotion to Christ.

She also wrote in her prayer “Give me the strength to be ever the light of their lives, so that I may lead them at last to you,”

Mother Teresa taught in India for 17 years, from 1931 to 1948 Mother Teresa taught at St. Mary’s High School in Calcutta, but the suffering and poverty she glimpsed outside the convent walls made such a deep impression on her.

 

However, While still at Saint Mary’s High School, on September 10, 1946, Mother Teresa experienced a second calling. She was riding in a train from Calcutta to the Himalayan foothills for a retreat when Christ spoke to her and told her to abandon teaching to work in the slums of Calcutta aiding the city’s poorest and sickest people.

 

But since Mother Teresa had taken a vow of obedience, she could not leave her convent without official permission. After nearly a year and a half of lobbying, in January 1948 she finally received approval to pursue this new calling.

 

August that year she got the blue-and-white sari that she would wear in public for the rest of her life, she left the Loreto convent and wandered out into the city.

She also went for medical training and after six months of basic medical training, she voyaged for the first time into Calcutta’s slums with no more specific a goal than to aid for the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for.

 

Although she had no funds, she depended on Divine Providence, and started an open-air school for slum children. Soon she was joined by voluntary helpers, and financial support was also forthcoming. This made it possible for her to extend the scope of her work.

Mother Teresa quickly translated the calling into concrete actions to help the city’s poor. She began an open-air school and established a home for the dying destitute in a dilapidated building she convinced the city government to donate to her cause.

On October 7, 1950, Mother Teresa received permission to start her own order, “The Missionaries of Charity”, which she founded with only a handful of members—most of them former teachers or pupils from St. Mary’s School.

The primary task was to love and care for those persons nobody was prepared to look after.

 

The ranks of her congregation grew and donations were coming in from around India and across the globe, the scope of Mother Teresa’s charitable activities expanded exponentially. Over the course of the 1950s and 1960s, she established a leper colony, an orphanage, a nursing home, a family clinic and a string of mobile health clinics.

 

In 1965 the Society became an International Religious Family by a decree of Pope Paul VI.

 

In 1971, Mother Teresa traveled to New York City to open her first American-based house of charity, and in the summer of 1982, she secretly went to Beirut, Lebanon, where she crossed between Christian East Beirut and Muslim West Beirut to aid children of both faiths.

In 1985, Mother Teresa returned to New York and spoke at the 40th anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly. While there, she also opened Gift of Love, a home to care for those infected with HIV/AIDS.

 

Mother Teresa received various honors for her tireless and effective charity. She was awarded the Jewel of India, the highest honor bestowed on Indian civilians, as well as the now-defunct Soviet Union’s Gold Medal of the Soviet Peace Committee.

In 1995, she publicly advocated a “No” vote in the Irish referendum to end the country’s constitutional ban on divorce and remarriage.

The most scathing criticism of Mother Teresa can be found in Christopher Hitchens’s book The Missionary Positio.

Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, in which Hitchens argued that Mother Teresa glorified poverty for her own ends and provided a justification for the preservation of institutions and beliefs that sustained widespread poverty.

In 1979 she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her humanitarian work.

She died in September 1997 After several years of deteriorating health, in which she suffered from heart, lung and kidney problems, she died at the age of 87.

In 2002, the Vatican recognized a miracle involving an Indian woman named Monica Besra, who said she was cured of an abdominal tumor through Mother Teresa’s intercession on the one year anniversary of her death in 1998.

Since her death, Mother Teresa has remained in the public spotlight. In particular, the publication of her private correspondence in 2003 caused a wholesale re-evaluation of her life by revealing the crisis of faith she suffered for most of the last 50 years of her life.

On the 17th December, 2015, Pope Francis issued a decree that recognized a second miracle attributed to Mother Teresa, clearing the way for her to be canonized as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church.

The second miracle involved the healing of Marcilio Andrino, a Brazilian man who was diagnosed with a viral brain infection and lapsed into a coma. His wife, family and friends prayed to Mother Teresa, and when the man was brought to the operating room for emergency surgery, he woke up without pain and was cured of his symptoms, according to a statement from the Missionaries of Charity Father.

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Mother Teresa was canonized as a saint on September 4, 2016, a day before the 19th anniversary of her death. Pope Francis led the canonization Mass, which was held in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City.

Tens of thousands of Catholics and pilgrims from around the world attended the canonization to celebrate the woman who had been called “the saint of the gutters” during her lifetime because of her charitable work with the poor.

By the time of her death in 1997, the Missionaries of Charity numbered more than 4,000—in addition to thousands more lay volunteers—with 610 foundations in 123 countries around the world.

The story of Mother Teresa is really a wonderful one even though she’s gone, her impact is still felt.

She has a quote that I like so much;  “Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”

—Mother Teresa

If the world could do that then it sure would be a better place.