Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa was born August 27, 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia, as Gonxhe Bojaxhiu from Albanian parents Nikollė and Drandafille Bojaxhiu.

Her father was a successful and well known contractor, her mother was a housewife.She was the youngest of three children.

Mother Teresa's family was a devoted catholic family, they prayed every evening and went to church almost everyday.

It was her family's generosity, care for the poor and the less fortunate that made a great impact on young Mother Teresa's life.

By age 12, she had made up her mind, she realized that her vocation was aiding the poor. She decides to become a nun, travels to Dublin, Ireland, to join the Sisters of Loretto. After about a year in Ireland, she leaves to join the Loretto convent in the northeast Indian city of Darjeeling, where she spent 17 years teaching and being principal of St.Mary's high school in Calcutta.

In 1946, her life changed forever.

While riding a train to the mountain town of Darjeeling to recover from suspected tuberculosis, on the 10th of September she said she received a calling from God "to serve him among the poorest of the poor."

Less then a year later she gets permission from to leave her order and moves to Calcutta's slums to set up her first school. "Sister Agnes" who was a former student, becomes Mother Teresa's first follower.

Others soon follow, and papal approval arrives to create a religious order of nuns called the Missionaries of Charity.

The foundation is celebrated Oct. 7 1950, the feast of the Holy Rosary. To identify herself with the poor she chooses a plain white sari with a blue border and a simple cross pinned to her left shoulder. Their mission is as she would say hen she accepted the Nobel Peace prize: "to care for the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone."

With the help of Calcutta officials she converts a portion of the abandoned temple to Kali, the Hindu goddess of death and destruction into Kalighat Home for the Dying, where even the poorest people would die with dignity.

Soon after she opens Nirmal Hriday ("Pure Heart"), also a home for the dying, Shanti Nagar (Town of Peace), a leper colony and later her first orphanage.

Mother Teresa and the sisters continued opening houses all over India caring for the poor, washing their wounds, soothing their sores, making them feel wanted.

But her order's work spread across the world after 1965, when Pope Paul VI granted Mother Teresa's request to globally expand her order.

Whether it was in Ethiopia feeding the hungry, the ghettos of South Africa or it was her native country Albania when the communist regime collapsed, Calcutta's Mother Teresa "the living saint" was there.

In 1982, at the height of the siege in Beirut she convinced the parties to stop the war so she could rescue 37 sick children trapped inside .

Mother Teresa became a symbol of untiring commitment to the poor and suffering.

She was probably the most admired women of all time, received many rewards and prices for her outstanding work and she used her reputation traveling all over the world raising money and support for her causes.

  • 1962: She received the Pandma Shri prize for "extraordinary services"
  • 1971: Pope Paul VI honors Mother Teresa by awarding her the first Pope John XXIII Peace Prize.
  • 1972: Government of India presents her with the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding.
  • 1979: Wins Nobel Peace Prize
  • 1985: President Reagan presents her the Medal of Freedom, the highest U.S. civilian award.
  • 1996: She becomes only the fourth person in the world to receive an honorary U.S. citizenship.

When she received the Nobel Prize she wore the same trademark 1$ sari and convinced the committee to cancel a dinner in her honor, using they money instead to " feed 400 poor children for a year in India"

Today Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity now has 570 missions all over the world, comprising of 4000 nuns, a brotherhood of 300 members and over100,000 lay volunteers operating homes for AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis patients; soup kitchens, children's and family counseling programs, orphanages, and schools.

Mother Teresa's health was deteriorating, part from her age, part from the conditions where she was living, part from her trips all over the world, opening new houses and raising money for the poor.

  • 1985:She suffers a heart attack while in Rome visiting Pope John Paul II.
  • 1989: Another almost fatal heart attack, a pacemaker is implanted.
  • 1991: She suffers pneumonia in Tijuana, Mexico which leads to heart failure.
  • 1996: Suffers malaria, chest infection and undergoes heart surgery.
  • On march 13th 1997: Sister Nirmala is selected as Mother Teresa's successor.
  • September 5th 1997 :The world learns that Mother Teresa "Angel Of Mercy" has died at age 87.