Early life: Mother Teresa was born as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on 26th August 1910 in Skopje in Macedonia. The youngest of the children born to Nikola and Drane Bojaxhiu. She was of Albanian descent. From childhood she was taught the lessons of charity. At the young age of 12, Agnes stored to feel disinterest in the worldly affairs and had the desire to spend her entire life for God and his work. At the age of 18, she left her parental home in Skopje and joined the Convent of our lady of Loreto, an Irish community of nuns in Dublin. She undertook the name Teresa in the year 1931.
She was assigned to the Loreto Entally community in Calcutta and taught at St. Mary’s school for girls from 1931 to 1948. On May 1937, sister Teresa made her final profession of vows from that time on she was called Mother Teresa. She had only one aim in life, to serve the poor, the destitute, the needy and all those who were dejected by the society.
In 1948 she got the permission from Pope Pius XII to leave the Loreto community and work among the city’s poor. She started an open air school for slum children. Soon she was joined by voluntary helps and financial support. In 1952, she opened Normal Hriday (or Pure hearts), a home for dying. She did a short course with the Medical Mission Sisters in Palna and returned to Calcutta and found temporary lodging with little sisters of the poor.
Founding Missionaries of Charity: Mother Teresa wanted to start a diocesan congregation. On October 7, 1950, Mother Teresa received permission from Vatican and thus was born ‘Missionaries of Charity’, whose primary task was to love and care for persons nobody was prepared to look after. In 1965, Mother Teresa was awarded a decree of praise by Pope John Paul VI and encouraged her to expand to other countries. The society of missionaries has spread all over the world including former Soviet Union, eastern European countries. These societies provide effective help to the poorest of the poor in a number of countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and they undertake relief work in the wake of natural catastrophes such as floods, famines, epidemics and for refugees. It also has houses in North America, Europe and Australia where they help the homeless, AIDS sufferers, alcoholics. At present, the missionaries of charities boast of 4000 thousand nuns and branches in 133 countries of the world.
Awards and Honors: Mother Teresa’s work has been appreciated and acclaimed through out the world. She has received recognition in the form of numerous awards as follows.
- Indian Padamshree award (1962)
- Nehru Prize (1972)
- Noble peace prize (1979)
- Balzan prize (1979)
- Templeton and Magsaysay award
Last days: During the last years of her life, she continued to govern her society and respond to the needs of the poor, needy despite severe health problems. On September 5, 1997 she breathed her last. She was given the honor of state funeral by government of India and her body was buried in the Mother house of the Missionaries of Charities. Her tomb became a place of pilgrimage.
Beatification: In 2002, the congregation for the causes of saints recognized as a miracle the healing of an Indian Women and approves the decrees of her heroic values. On October 19, 2003, Pope John Paul II beatified Mother Teresa in Rome thereby bestowing on her the title blessed.