Information about St Teresa of Calcutta
- St Teresa of Calcutta was born in Ottoman Empire (which is now known as North Macedonia) on the 26thAugust 1910.
- Her birth name was Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. She was baptised on the 27th of August (the day after her birthday) and she always considered this her true birthday.
- St Teresa’s father died when she was 8 years old, and she was raised by her mother.
- At the age of 18 St Teresa decided to leave home and join the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland to learn English and then wanted to become a missionary.
- A year later in 1929 she began her missionary work in Darjeeling, India. She learned the local language and taught at St Teresa school.
- Teresa took her first religious vows in May 1931 and chose the name Teresa. She chose the Spanish spelling of ‘Teresa’ as somebody and the convent had already chosen that name.
- She taught for many years and became headmistress.
- During her years of teaching St Teresa became very disturbed by the increasing poverty in India.
- St Teresa felt the call from God to go and help the people in Calcutta, India.
- She received basic medical training and then went out to help the poor and the sick.
Missionaries of Charity
- In 1950 St Teresa formed a group within the Catholic Church and set up Missionaries of Charity.
- The purpose of this organisation was to take care of “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people who have become a burden to society and are shunned by everyone.”
- In 1963 Mother Teresa also founded the Missionaries of Charity Brothers.
- The Missionary of Charity started with 13 members. At the time of her death this had grown to more than 4000 sisters and 300 brothers working at 610 missions and in more than 123 countries.
Honours and Awards
Mother Teresa was fluent in five languages and travelled often. Her work quickly gained global recognition and she received many awards including:
India’s highest civilian award (the Bharat Ratna) in 1970; the Inaugural Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971; the Albert Schwitzer International Prize in 1975; the Pacem in Terris Award, the La Storta Medal for Human Service, and the Poverello Medalin 1976; the Balzan Prize in 1978; the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979; the Order of Merit in 1983; and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985.
Mother Teresa’s official biography was published in 1992 and on November 16, 1996, she was given honorary United States citizenship. Over the years, Mother Teresa received several honorary degrees and many more awards than those that are listed here.
- In 1983 whilst visiting Pope John Paul II, St Teresa had a heart attack.
- In 1989 she had another heart attack.
- After an attack of Pneumonia and more heart problems in 1991, Mother Teresa offered to resign as superior general, but the sisters voted for her to stay, and she agreed.
- Mother Teresa fell and broke her collarbone in April 1996.
- In August she contracted malaria and had heart failure. Her health steadily declined and on 13thMarch 1997, Mother Teresa resigned as superior general of the Missionaries of Charity.
- Mother Teresa died on 5th September 1997, at the age of 87.
- She was beatified on 19th October 2003, by Pope Saint John Paul II.
- On 4th September 2016, Pope Francis canonized Blessed Mother Teresa!
- Saint Teresa’s feast day is 5th September, and she is the patron Saint of World Youth Day and The Missionaries of Charity.
- On 6th September 2017, she was also chosen as the co-patron of the Archdiocese of Calcutta along with Saint Francis Xavier.
- Her love for the poor and the marginalised should inspire us to serve others and to find Christ even in those we consider unlovable.
- Love is a choice and every day; Mother Teresa chose love and service. She found Christ in the poorest of the poor and we can find Christ in all those around us.