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Mother Teresa Biography

Last updated date: 19th May 2024
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Mother Teresa, also known as St. Teresa of Calcutta, was born in Skopje in the Ottoman Empire (located in modern-day North Macedonia). She left home at the age of 18 to become a Roman Catholic nun and to join the Loreto Sisters in Ireland. The Missionaries of Charity was founded by Mother Teresa in India in 1950. She was 40 years old. Her lifetime of service to the poor of Kolkata (Calcutta) made her one of the most famous people in the world. In October 2003, she was beatified by Pope John Paul II, and on September 4, 2016, Pope Francis I canonised her. She was often referred to by her followers as "the Angel of Mercy" and "Saint of the Gutter." She was a woman who heard in such an extreme and personal way the call of God that she took a path that gave up the comforts of the creature most of us covet.

Information about Mother Teresa-

  • Mother Teresa Date of Birth: August 27, 1910

  • Mother Teresa Feast Day: September 5
    Mother Teresa Day in Albania:  October 19th

  • Mother Teresa Day of Canonization: September 4, 2016

  • Mother Teresa Day of Beatification: October 19, 2003

  • Venerated: December 20, 2002

About Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa was born on August 27, 1910, as Agnesa Gonxha Bojaxhiu, the third child of the Bojaxhiu family. She was born in a family home in the centre of Skopje, at 13 Pop Kocina Street. She was baptised at the Catholic Church of the Heart of Jesus. In church schools, where she was an active member of the drama department, the literature section, and the church chorus, Gonxhe completed primary and high school successfully. Overall, she and her older brother and sister had a happy childhood. In crafts, fabric dyeing, and trade, the Bojaxhiu family had a long history of success.

Gonxhe entered an Abbey at age 12. She became a member of the Loreto Order of nuns in Ireland when Gonxhe was 18, taking the name Sister Teresa. Six months later, she was sent to Calcutta's Loreto Convent. It was there that she taught school and finally became principal. As her bond with Jesus grew deeper, she felt his sorrow for the very poor. She experienced the call of Jesus to go and offer the love of God and to be of service to Calcutta's most desperately poor. This led her to leave the school compound's comparative security, sheltered from the most abject poverty of the city, to live with the poorest of the poor on the streets.

About Mother Teresa Charities and Missionaries

Teresa sought and obtained Vatican permission to start a diocesan congregation, which would become the Missionaries of Charity, after working on the streets of Calcutta for two years. "The poor, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers," Teresa explained, "all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, and uncared for in society, people who have become a burden to society and are shunned by others." In Calcutta, it started as a small order of 12 members.

More than 4,000 nuns ran orphanages, AIDS hospices, and charity centres on all six continents by 2006, caring for refugees, the blind, disabled, elderly, alcoholics, the sick, homeless, and victims of floods, epidemics, and famine.

In 1952, the city of Calcutta made space available for the first home for the dying. Mother Teresa converted an abandoned Hindu temple into the Kalighat Home for the Dying, a free hospice for the sick, with the aid of Indian officials. She opened another hospice, Nirmal Hriday (Pure Heart), as well as a home for lepers named Shanti Nagar (City of Peace) and an orphanage shortly after.

Recruits and voluntary donations began to flood in for the order. The order had opened hospices, orphanages, and leper houses all over India by the 1960s. Mother Teresa was one of the first people to build AIDS homes.

Teresa's order quickly grew. Around the world, new facilities are being built. Venezuela was the order's first outpost outside of India. Others followed in Rome, Tanzania, and later in several Asian, African, and European countries, including Albania.

Mother Teresa was well-known around the world by the early 1970s. Malcolm Muggeridge's documentary film Something Beautiful for God, released in 1969, and his book of the same name, published in 1971, made her work known all over the world.

The crew felt the documentary footage they captured in bad lighting conditions was unusable. After returning from India, however, the film was discovered to be extremely well lit. Mother Teresa, Muggeridge said, had performed a miracle of "divine light." Others in the crew claimed it was more likely due to a new style of movie. Muggeridge later became a devout Catholic.

In 1982, Mother Teresa convinced Israelis and Palestinians engaged in a skirmish to avoid shooting long enough to evacuate 37 mentally ill patients from a besieged Beirut hospital.

When the Eastern European walls came down, she widened her efforts to include communist countries that had previously rejected her, launching hundreds of initiatives. Mother Teresa also visited Ethiopia to help the hungry, Chernobyl radiation victims, and earthquake victims in Armenia. Mother Teresa visited her homeland for the first time in 1991, opening a Missionaries of Charity Brothers home in Tirana, Albania.

She was running 517 missions in over 100 countries by 1996. Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity expanded from 12 nuns to thousands helping the "poorest of the poor" in 450 locations around the world over the years. In the United States, the first Missionaries of Charity home was founded in the South Bronx, New York.

Recognition and Acceptance

Mother Teresa India

Teresa was awarded the Padma Shri in 1962 and the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding in 1969 by the Indian government, more than a third of a century ago. Other Indian awards followed, including the Bharat Ratna (India's highest civilian honour) in 1980. Navin Chawla's official biography of Teresa was published in 1992. On August 28, 2010, the Indian government released a special 5 coin (the sum of money Teresa had when she arrived in India) to celebrate the 100th anniversary of her birth.

Does Mother Teresa Matter Elsewhere? 

Teresa was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding in 1962 for her contributions to South and East Asia. She had become an international star by the early 1970s. Teresa's celebrity can be traced in part to Malcolm Muggeridge's documentary Something Beautiful for God from 1969 and his book of the same name from 1971. In 1982, she was made an honorary Companion of the Order of Australia "for service to the nation of Australia and humanity at large" by governments and civilian organisations.

Several decorations were bestowed by the United Kingdom and the United States, culminating in the Order of Merit in 1983 and honorary citizenship in the United States on November 16, 1996. Teresa was given the Golden Honor of the Country by her Albanian homeland in 1994, but her acceptance of it, as well as the Haitian Legion of Honour, was controversial. Teresa was chastised for ostensibly helping the Duvaliers and crooked businessmen like Charles Keating and Robert Maxwell; she wrote to Keating's trial judge asking for clemency.

About Mother Teresa Deteriorating Health and Death

Teresa died of a heart attack in 1983 while meeting Pope John Paul II in Rome. She got a pacemaker after the second attack in 1989. She experienced heart problems in 1991, following a bout with pneumonia while in Mexico.

She offered to step down as the head of the order. The vote was performed by secret ballot. Except for her, all of the nuns voted for Mother Teresa to stay. Mother Teresa decided to remain on as the Missionaries of Charity's chief.

Mother Teresa fractured her collar bone when she fell in April 1996. She was diagnosed with malaria and left heart ventricle failure in August. She underwent heart surgery, but her health was deteriorating.

Under the assumption that Mother Teresa was being attacked by a demon, Archbishop of Calcutta Henry Sebastian D'Souza ordered a priest to perform an exorcism on her. She gave her consent to the exorcism.

Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity had over 4,000 sisters, a 300-member related brotherhood, and over 100,000 lay volunteers running 610 missions in 123 countries at the time of her death. Hospices and homes for HIV/AIDS, leprosy, and tuberculosis patients, soup kitchens, children's and family therapy services, orphanages, and schools were among them.

The Government of India honoured Mother Teresa with a full state funeral, an honour usually reserved for presidents and prime ministers, in appreciation of her service to India's poor of all faiths. Within both secular and religious cultures, her death was widely viewed as a great tragedy.

Awards and Commemorations

Mother Teresa was awarded the Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding in 1962. Paul VI conferred the first Pope John XXIII Peace Prize on her in 1971. Other honours she received included the Kennedy Prize (1971), the Balzan Prize (1978) for humanity, unity, and brotherhood among peoples, the Albert Schweitzer International Prize (1975), the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom (1985), and the Congressional Gold Medal (1994), honorary citizenship of the United States on November 16, 1996 (one of only two people to receive this honour during their lifetimes), and honorary citizenship of the United States on November 16, 1997 (one of only two people to receive this honour during their lifetimes).

In 1973, Teresa won the Templeton Prize. In 1981, Jean-Claude Duvalier conferred the Legion d'Honneur upon her. She was the first and only living person to be featured on an Indian postage stamp.

About Mother Teresa Memorial Museum

In Skopje's Feudal Tower, where she used to play as a child, a memorial room (museum) was created. The museum houses a large number of pieces from Mother Theresa's life in Skopje as well as relics from her later years. A model of her family home, built by the artist Vojo Georgievski, can be found in the Memorial Room.

An area with a statue of Mother Teresa, a memorial park, and a fountain is located next to the Memorial Room.

About Mother Teresa Memorial Plaque

The house of Mother Theresa used to be situated on the outskirts of Skopje's city mall. “On this spot was the house where Gondza Bojadzic — Mother Teresa — was born on August 26, 1910,” according to the memorial plaque, which was dedicated in March of 1998.

FAQs on Mother Teresa Biography

Q1. Where is Mother Teresa from? Is Mother Teresa Indian?

Ans: Mother Teresa, also known as Saint Teresa of Calcutta in the Roman Catholic Church, was an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary who was born in Skopje (now the capital of North Macedonia) in 1910 when it was still part of the Ottoman Empire's Kosovo Vilayet. In her words, She was an Albanian by blood, an Indian by citizenship and by faith a catholic nun.

Q2. What is Mother Teresa Remembered for?

Ans: Mother Teresa founded the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic women's religious congregation dedicated to assisting the needy. She was canonised as Saint Teresa of Calcutta in 2016 and is recognised as one of the greatest humanitarians of the twentieth century.

Q3. What is Mother Teresa Feast?

Ans: Mother Teresa was canonised on September 4th, 2016 and the anniversary of her death which is September 5th, is the feast of Mother Teresa.