Mother Teresa is famous in the history of
mankind for her charity work toward the poor,
sick, helpless, homeless and downtrodden people
of the society. She was born on 27th August,
1910 in Yugoslavia, as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhin, to
Agnes Gonxha became a nun of the Order of the Sisters of Our Lady of Loreto in Ireland at an early age of 18 years. She came to India and commenced her novitiate (a beginner becoming a nun) in 1928 in Darjeeling, a hill station in the Indian State of West Bengal. She soon became the principal of the institution. Agnes Gonxha adopted the name "Teresa" in 1931, in memory of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. In 1946 Agnes felt an inner calling to serve the poor, sick, old and helpless people. Accordingly, she obtained permission from Pope Pius XII in 1948 to leave the convent and serve the people living in the slums and in the streets.
Works of charity
In 1948 Agnes Gonxha managed to secure Indian citizenship and started to drape herself in a sari. In 1950 she started her own order "Missionaries of Charity" to look after the unloved, abandoned and the unwanted people. She also ran many children's homes to look after the orphaned, retarded and sick children. Gradually she came to be known as Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity founded the "Nirmal Hriday", which is a home for the dying, at an abandoned Kali temple in Kalighat in West Bengal. In 1953 Mother Teresa founded her first orphanage. She also started a home for the lepers in the year 1957 in Kolkata. Gradually she established around 570 homes for the poor in more than 125 countries, both in the East and in the West.
Felicitations and awards
Mother Teresa was honoured with several awards for her contributions to the human society. These awards include the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1979, Bharat Ratna (Highest Civilian Award in India) in 1980, Templeton Award (Britain), Magsaysay Award (The Philippines), Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Ronald Reagan, etc. However, fame and recognitions mattered very little to her.
Mother Teresa breathed her last on September 5, 1997 in Kolkata, India. She was buried within the premises of Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata. She has been beatified by the Catholic Church. This is a step towards becoming a Saint. Now she is referred to as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.