Life and Biography
Mother Teresa was born on August 26, 1910 as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Macedonia. Her family was of Albanian descent. At the age of eight, her father died. When she was twelve, she became more interested in God and religious life.By the time young Agnes was 18, she left her family in Macedonia and went to live with the sisters of Loretta, an Irish community of nuns fulfilling missions in India. After a few months, she was sent to India after learning English and took her vows of a nun. On May 24, 1931, she took her initial vows as a nun when she was 21.
From 1931 to 1947, Mother Teresa taught at St. Mary’s High School in Calcutta, India. She was appointed headmistress in 1944. After discovering the cruelty of poverty outside the convent, she made a request to leave the school to work with the victims of poverty, which was approved in 1948. Later in life, she started an open school for less fortunate children even though she wasn’t funded. Therefore, she depended on Divine Providence (more commonly known as God’s activity in the world). Soon enough, contributors heard of her work on helping the poor and funded her cause.
On October 7, 1950, the Holy See (The episcopal jurisdiction branch of the Roman Catholic Church) granted Mother Teresa permission to start the Missionaries of Charity, her own order. Their main goal is to care and love everybody who weren’t fortunate enough to have people to care for them. Pope Paul VI declared the Missionaries of Charity an international religious family in 1965.
From 1952 to 1981 Mother Teresa opened several hospices caring for the sick, injured, and dying. She also co-founded more movements and missionaries, such as the Corpus Christi Movement for Priests, or the Missionaries of Charity Fathers, which she created along with Father Joseph Langford. Mother Teresa not only helped others, but saved lives as well. In 1982, near the end of the Siege of Beirut, Mother Teresa rescued 37 children trapped in a burning hospital by creating a momentary ceasefire between armed Palestinian guerillas and the Israeli army. She traveled across the war zone alongside Red Cross workers to bring the children to safety.
In the late 1980’s, Mother Teresa tried expanding her work to communist countries that had denied the missionaries of charity before, creating multiple new projects and missions. By 1984 even the United States had 19 establishments. By 1996, she had over 500 ongoing missions in over 100 nations. The Missionaries of Charity grew over time and reached 450 centers worldwide. Though criticized for her views against abortion and divorce, she was undaunted. When asked her opinion on the crticism she received, she stated, “No matter who says what, you should accept it with a smile and do your own work.”
Her health started declining in 1983, when she suffered her first heart attack visiting Pope John Paul II in Rome. she had another heart attack in 1989, forcing her to use an artificial pacemaker. In 1991, she had a case of pneumonia and suffered more heart problems.Over the next six years, she broke her collar bone, suffered from malaria, and had a left heart ventricle failure. Henry Sebastian D’Souza, the archbishop of Clalcutta performed and exorcism on her, convinced that she was being attacked by the devil. On March 13, 1997, she resigned from her position as the head of the missionaries of Charity. She later died on September 5th, 1997. She was granted a state funeral by the Indian government as thanks for the work she has done to help the world.
At the time of Mother Teresa’s passing, her Missionaries of Charity had over 4000 sisters along with an associated brotherhood consisting of around 300 members. They operated over 600 missions in 123 countries, including hospitals and homes for those infected with HIV/AID, leprosy and tuberculosis, soup kitchens, schools, and much more. they were also assisted by Co-Workers, who had over 1 million participants by the 1990’s.
Mother Teresa has inspired countless people and will always be remembered as a kind and caring nun, working beyond the boundaries of churches and charities to create a better world. After her death, she was beatified and given the titlie “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.” The beatification of Mother Teresa was conducted Oct. 19, 2003 by Pope John Paul II. Many believe Blessed Mother Teresa will be named a saint of the Catholic Church someday, and her beatification is the latest step in that path to sainthood.