Mother Teresa was an Albanian Roman Catholic nun who founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India and was internationally famed as a humanitarian and for her disinterested assistance to the poor and helpless.
For over 45 years she humbly ministered to the poor, sick, lepers, homeless and orphaned, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity's expansion, first throughout India and then in other countries.
Mother Teresa grew famous for ministering to and the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta.
She became a worldwide symbol of charity, meeting with Princess Diana, Fidel Castro and Ronald Reagan, Deng Xiaoping, John Paul II and many other public figures.
She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 19 October 2003 and after beatification she became known as the Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata.
On 26 August 2010, hundreds of nuns, bishops and volunteers dwellers in the Indian city of Calcutta have marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mother Teresa.
She was canonized by Pope Francis on 4 September 2016 in Saint Peter's Square in Vatican City.
She began her missionary work as a teacher in 1928 in Calcutta, India. She served her mission by walked into the slums and gathering together unschooled children and teaching them literacy and hygiene. In 1948 the Vatican granted her permission to leave her convent in order personally to tend the homeless, starving, and sick in Calcutta's slums.
Revelation. Once Mother Teresa saw how one boy had brought a wheelbarrow with his dying mother and left her near the hospital gates. The woman's body had been rotted and she wasn’t taken to the hospital. Teresa prayed, washed the woman and took care of her. She died in her arms with a smile on her face. Then on Sept. 10, 1946 during her walk she had a revelation and realized that she had to leave the Order of Loreto and to settle in the slums of Calcutta in order to help the misfortunate and poor people.
On August 16, 1948 Mother Teresa, aged 38, having changed in a cheap sari bought on the market, left her abode owning only five rupees.
She went to live in the slums of Calcutta, teaching the children of the poor and caring for the destitute.
In 1948 she founded her order, which served the blind, the aged, the disabled, and the dying. Members took an fourth vow in addition to the traditional ones of poverty, chastity and obedience, which was to give free service to the most abjectly poor. She founded the Missionaries of Charity, which now operates schools, hospitals, orphanages, and food centers worldwide.
Others joined her and in 1950 her new Order, the Missionaries of Charity received official status as a religious community within the Archdiocese of Calcutta.
In 1952, the Missionaries of Charity found a home for the people they found abandoned and dying alone on the streets.
Later another two orders have been founded: Missionary Brothers of Charity (1963) and the International co-Workers of Mother Teresa (1969). The missions were opened in Venezuela (1965), Ceylon (1967), in Rome and Tanzania (1968), and in Cuba (1986). Accompanied by Red Cross workers, she traveled through the war zone to the devastated areas. In 1982 at the height of the Siege of Beirut, Mother Teresa rescued 37 children trapped in a front line hospital by brokering a temporary cease-fire between the Israeli army and Palestinian guerrillas.
When Eastern Europe experienced increased openness in the late 1980s, she expanded her efforts to former Communist countries.
In 1987, she and her sisters arrived in Ukraine. They brought clothes and medicine, met the victims and visited the areas located close to reactor. In 1988 she visited Moscow in order to assist and minister to the radiation victims at Chernobyl and earthquake victims in Armenia.
In 1991, Mother Teresa returned for the first time to her homeland and opened a Missionaries of Charity Brothers home in Tirana, Albania.
Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity continued to expand, and at the time of her death it was operating 610 missions in 123 countries, with some 4,000 nuns and hundreds of thousands of lay workers, including hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, soup kitchens, children's and family counselling programs, orphanages, and schools. She was succeeded by the Indian-born Sister Nirmala.
Although Agnes was born on August 26, she considered August 27, the day she was baptized, to be her "true birthday." Her first name - Gonxhe meaning "rosebud" in Albanian.
Her father died in 1919 when she was eight years old. After that her mother raised her as a Roman Catholic. When she was 12 years old Agnes was fascinated by stories of the lives of missionaries and was convinced that she should commit herself to serving people.
In 1928 Agnes Gonxhe Bojaxhiu went to the Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham, Ireland and joined the Sisters of Our Lady of Lareto, a Catholic order that did charity work in India. She left home at age 18 and never again saw her mother, sister and brother.
At that time she chose the name Teresa after Thérèse de Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries and took her first vows in 1928.
She arrived in India in 1929, and began her novitiate in Darjeeling, near the Himalayan mountains. She took her solemn vows on May 24, 1931 and on May 14, 1937, while serving as a teacher at the Loreto convent girls' school in eastern Calcutta.
Although in her later years she suffered from a worsening heart condition, Mother Teresa continued to serve the poor and sick and also lead an active social life, spoke out against divorce, contraception, and abortion.
She died on 5 September 1997 at the age of 87 years old. Her devotion caught the imagination of the world; in India she was given a State funeral.
Remains: Buried, Mother House Convent, Calcutta, India.