Introduction Of Mother Teresa
Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu, commonly known as Mother Teresa, was a significant figure in the realm of compassion and charity. Born as Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, which was a part of the Ottoman Empire back then. At the tender age of 18, she embarked on a journey that led her from Ireland to India, where she spent the majority of her life.
Her immense devotion and humanitarian efforts earned her canonization by the Catholic Church on September 4, 2016, bestowing upon her the title of Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Her legacy is celebrated every year on September 5th, her feast day.
Mother Teresa’s profound impact manifested in her creation of the Missionaries of Charity, a religious congregation that expanded across 133 countries with more than 4,500 nuns as of 2012. This congregation undertook the noble task of caring for those afflicted by HIV/AIDS, leprosy, tuberculosis, and other dire conditions.
Their initiatives ranged from soup kitchens and mobile clinics to orphanages and schools, all rooted in the core vows of chastity, poverty, obedience, and a unique fourth vow—to provide unwavering service to the most impoverished.
Acknowledged for her remarkable contributions, Mother Teresa received esteemed accolades like the Ramon Magsaysay Peace Prize in 1962 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Her altruistic endeavors garnered admiration, yet she encountered controversy due to her stances on abortion, contraception, and the living conditions within her care facilities for the terminally ill.
The story of Mother Teresa’s life has been documented and explored extensively, with an authorized biography penned by Navin Chawla in 1992. Her memory and legacy continue to influence countless lives. Moreover, on September 6, 2017, both Mother Teresa and Saint Francis Xavier were jointly named co-patrons of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Calcutta.
|Full Name||Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu MC|
|Birth||August 26, 1910|
|Birth Place||Skopje, Ottoman Empire (Now North Macedonia)|
|Mother||Dranafile Bojaxhiu (Bernai)|
|Siblings||Older sister and brother|
|Arrival in India||1929|
|Profession||Catholic nun, founder of Missionaries of Charity|
|Death||September 5, 1997|
|Place of Death||Calcutta, India|
|Awards and Honors||Nobel Peace Prize, Bharat Ratna, Pope John XXIII Peace Prize, and more|
Early Life and Education
Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu: Roots and Aspirations
Born with the name Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, later known as Mother Teresa, her Albanian heritage shaped her identity. On August 26, 1910, she was born into a Kosovar Albanian family in Skopje, a part of the Ottoman Empire, which is now North Macedonia. Baptized in Skopje the day after her birth, she eventually considered her baptism day, August 27, as her “true birthday.”
Family Dynamics and Early Calling
Nikollë and Dranafile Bojaxhiu were her parents, and she was the youngest in her family. Her father, an active figure in Albanian community politics, passed away in 1919 when she was just eight. Her upbringing was a blend of Prizren, her father’s birthplace, and a village near Gjakova, possibly Bishtazhin, where her mother might have hailed from.
A Calling Blossoms
In her early years, Anjezë’s fascination with the stories of missionaries in Bengal kindled a deep calling. By age 12, she was resolute in her decision to dedicate her life to religious service. Her conviction solidified on August 15, 1928, during her visits to the Black Madonna of Vitina-Letnice shrine.
Journey to Loreto Abbey and Beyond
At 18, Anjezë left home in 1928 to join the Sisters of Loreto at Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham, Ireland. Her purpose was to learn English, which was the language of instruction for the Sisters of Loreto in India. This journey meant leaving behind her family, and she never saw her mother or sister again. Her family resided in Skopje until 1934, then relocated to Tirana.
Arrival in India and Vows
She arrived in India in 1929 and commenced her novitiate in Darjeeling, nestled in the lower Himalayas. Learning Bengali and teaching at St. Teresa’s School near her convent, she took her first religious vows on May 24, 1931. Inspired by Thérèse de Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries, she adopted the name Teresa.
Dedication and Leadership
Her solemn vows were taken on May 14, 1937, while she was teaching at the Loreto convent school in Entally, eastern Calcutta. Embracing the title ‘Mother’ as per Loreto tradition, she served there for almost two decades and eventually became the headmistress in 1944. While she cherished teaching, the dire poverty surrounding Calcutta deeply troubled her, especially during the Bengal famine of 1943 and the tumultuous times of the August 1946 Direct Action Day.
Founding Missionaries of Charity
A pivotal moment came in 1946 when, during a train journey to Darjeeling, Mother Teresa felt a profound calling to serve India’s impoverished. In 1950, she established the Missionaries of Charity, adopting a white sari with two blue borders as their distinct habit.
Answering the Call and Founding the Mission
In 1946, Sister Teresa experienced what she termed a “call within a call,” a divine inspiration compelling her to dedicate herself to the care of the sick and impoverished. Her heart stirred, and she immersed herself in the very slums she had observed while teaching. Through her efforts, a pilgrim hostel near the sacred Kali temple was provided by municipal authorities. This marked the birthplace of her order in 1948. Soon, kindred spirits rallied around her cause, swelling the ranks of compassionate helpers.
A Movement Takes Shape
With unwavering resolve, dispensaries and open-air schools were established to address the pressing needs of the destitute. Embracing her adopted Indian citizenship, Mother Teresa instilled the sari as a habit for her Indian nuns. In 1950, her order garnered formal recognition from Pope Pius XII, while in 1965, it was elevated to a pontifical congregation, directly subject to the pope’s authority.
A Legacy of Compassion
In 1952, Mother Teresa furthered her mission by founding Nirmal Hriday, a hospice that offered solace and dignity to the terminally ill. Her order extended its reach by creating multiple centers for the blind, elderly, and disabled. Guided by her vision, the Missionaries of Charity constructed Shanti Nagar (“Town of Peace”), a leper colony situated near Asansol, India.
Acknowledgment of Service
In 1962, the Indian government bestowed upon Mother Teresa the prestigious Padma Shri, a top civilian honor, recognizing her profound contributions to the people of India. This accolade underscored the impact of her selfless service.
An Unusual Gift and Continued Devotion
During Pope Paul VI’s visit to India in 1964, he presented Mother Teresa with his ceremonial limousine. Demonstrating her unwavering commitment, she promptly raffled the limousine to raise funds for her leper colony, embodying her dedication through every act.
A Call to Rome and New Endeavors
Summoned to Rome in 1968, Mother Teresa answered the call to establish a home there, predominantly staffed by Indian nuns. This expansion marked another chapter in her global mission of compassion and care.
A Testament of Peace
In recognition of her tireless apostolic work, Pope Paul honored her on January 6, 1971, bestowing upon her the inaugural Pope John XXIII Peace Prize. This testament to her dedication reverberated far beyond the confines of her congregation.
The Nobel Peace Prize and National Recognition
The pinnacle of recognition arrived in 1979 when Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize for her humanitarian efforts. The world applauded her boundless compassion and unwavering dedication to making a positive difference.
A Nation’s Highest Honor
In the following year, the Indian government bestowed the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honor in the country, upon Mother Teresa. This gesture underscored the profound impact she had made on both a global scale and within her homeland.
Steadfast Values in Later Years
In her later life, Mother Teresa continued to uphold her unwavering principles. She expressed her stance against divorce, contraception, and abortion, voicing her beliefs on matters she held dear.
Health Challenges and Unyielding Spirit
Health challenges cast a shadow over her later years. In 1989, she suffered a heart attack, a reminder of her human vulnerability. Yet, her spirit remained resolute, undeterred by adversity.
Transitions and Continuity
In 1990, Mother Teresa took the courageous step of resigning from her role as the head of the order. Remarkably, she was reinstated by an overwhelmingly affirmative vote, with her own voice as the sole dissenting note. Despite her steadfast dedication, her health deteriorated, necessitating her retirement. In 1997, Indian-born Sister Nirmala assumed the mantle of leadership.
An Enduring Legacy
As Mother Teresa’s life drew to a close, her order stood as a testament to her indomitable spirit. With centers in over 90 countries, her order encompassed hundreds of centers and included 4,000 nuns and countless lay workers.
The Journey to Sainthood
Within a mere two years of her passing, the process to declare her a saint was initiated. Pope John Paul II expedited the canonization process, recognizing her exceptional contributions. The journey culminated on October 19, 2003, when Mother Teresa was beatified, attaining the esteemed status of being blessed, a swift achievement in the annals of the church. On September 4, 2016, Pope Francis I canonized her as a saint, commemorating her legacy of compassion, dedication, and unwavering faith.
Joy and Commitment on the Surface
Mother Teresa’s life was a tapestry of cheerfulness and unwavering devotion to God that she displayed in her everyday work. Her external demeanor painted a portrait of unshakeable commitment.
The Hidden Struggles Unveiled
However, behind this facade, a different narrative emerged from her letters, painstakingly collected and published in 2007. These intimate correspondences revealed a profound inner turmoil. In the depths of her soul, Mother Teresa grappled with the absence of God’s presence for the last five decades of her life.
A Glimpse into Her Inner World
The letters unveiled her inner suffering, bearing witness to her belief that Jesus had seemingly abandoned her from the inception of her mission. Despite the grandeur of her service, she walked a path shrouded in spiritual darkness.
Sharing in Christ’s Burden
Within this realm of darkness, she found solace in an unexpected place. She began to see herself sharing in Christ’s Passion, mirroring the moment when Jesus uttered, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” in his moments of greatest trial.
A Life Intertwined with Suffering and Faith
Remarkably, even amidst her profound hardship, Mother Teresa integrated this spiritual anguish into the fabric of her daily life. Instead of allowing it to derail her faith, she harnessed it, weaving it into her religious journey. Her commitment to Christ remained steadfast, undeterred by the spiritual void that enveloped her.
Health Decline and Final Moments
Struggles and Resilience
Mother Teresa’s later years were marked by health challenges that underscored her unwavering spirit. In 1983, she suffered a heart attack during her visit to Pope John Paul II in Rome. A subsequent heart attack in 1989 necessitated the implantation of a pacemaker, a step towards preserving her health.
A Life Committed
Despite the setbacks, Mother Teresa’s dedication persisted. In 1991, after grappling with pneumonia in Mexico, she encountered further heart problems. She offered to step down from her role as head of the Missionaries of Charity, but the congregation, through a secret ballot, voted resoundingly for her to remain at the helm.
Physical Struggles Mount
In 1996, a fall led to a broken collarbone, and within four months, she confronted malaria and heart failure. Despite undergoing heart surgery, the signs of her health decline were evident. In the midst of her cardiac issues, Archbishop of Calcutta Henry Sebastian D’Souza arranged for a priest to conduct an exorcism with her consent, believing she might be under spiritual attack.
A Transition and Farewell
On March 13, 1997, Mother Teresa made the poignant decision to step down as head of the Missionaries of Charity, marking a pivotal transition in her journey. She passed away on September 5, 1997. By the time of her death, her order had burgeoned to over 4,000 sisters, along with a brotherhood of 300 members. Their presence extended across 610 missions in 123 countries, providing solace to the marginalized and afflicted.
A Grateful Farewell
Mother Teresa’s body lay in repose for a week in St. Thomas, Calcutta, where she had dedicated her life to her mission. Her funeral was accorded a state funeral by the Indian government, a gesture of gratitude for her service transcending religious boundaries.
A Global Tribute
Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano delivered the homily at her funeral, commemorating her extraordinary life. Her passing was met with grief from both secular and religious circles. Notably, Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif hailed her as an exceptional individual dedicated to serving humanity, while former U.N. Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar characterized her as a beacon of peace in the world, embodying the essence of the United Nations itself.
10 Best Quotes attributed to Mother Teresa
“Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”
“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.”
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”
“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”
“Peace begins with a smile.”
“The greatest science in the world; in heaven and on earth; is love.”
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
Q- Who was Mother Teresa?
Ans: Mother Teresa, also known as Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu, was a Catholic nun and the founder of the Missionaries of Charity. She dedicated her life to helping the poor and marginalized.
Q- Where was Mother Teresa born?
Ans: Mother Teresa was born in Skopje, Ottoman Empire (now North Macedonia) on August 26, 1910.
Q- What were Mother Teresa’s major accomplishments?
Ans: Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a religious congregation that provided care to those in need. She received the Nobel Peace Prize and the Bharat Ratna for her humanitarian work.
Q- When did Mother Teresa pass away?
Ans: Mother Teresa passed away on September 5, 1997, in Calcutta, India.
Q- What awards and honors did Mother Teresa receive?
Ans: Mother Teresa received several awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize, Bharat Ratna, and the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize, in recognition of her remarkable dedication to serving the poor and disadvantaged.