The woman sent from God

Agnes Gonxhe Bojaxhiu on August 27Th, 1910 in Üsküb, a town in the “Ottoman” province of Kosovo,
which is now called “Skopje” and in the Republic of Macedonia.
Her father, “Nikolla Bojaxhiu”, was a successful merchant in the town, and along with his wife “Dranafila”, they had three children and Agnes was the youngest.
Nikolla and Dranfila were both Catholic, though most Albanians are Muslim. And that of course also made Agnes a Catholic.

Already a hero at an early age

Already at the age of 12, Agnes told her mom that she felt a vocation to help the poor, and she decided to train for missionary work in India. So she joined the youth group in her local parish called Sodality. Then she turned 18, were the Vatican granted her permission to leave Skopje and join the Sisters of Loreto in Calcutta, an Irish community of nuns with a mission. Also they provided education for girls, witch Agnes took of cause. So after a few months training at the Institute of the “Blessed Virgin Mary” in Dublin, she was finally sent to “Darjeeling” in India as a novice sister. In 1937 she made her vows and took the religious title “Mother Teresa”.

Starting to serve god among the poor

1929 to 1948 Mother Teresa taught geography and catechism at St. Mary's High School in Calcutta, becoming its principal in 1944. She later said that the poverty all around left a deep impression on her. In September 1946 she said, that she had received a calling from God "to serve him among the poorest of the poor."
In 1948 she got permission from Pope Pius XII, via the Archbishop of Calcutta, to leave her community and live as an independent nun. She closed the high school and, returned to Calcutta and found temporary lodging with the Little Sisters of the Poor. Then she started an open school for homeless children. Soon she was joined by voluntary helpers, and she received financial support from different church organizations.

In October
1950 Teresa received The Vatican’s permission to start her own order, “The Missionaries of Charity”. Their mission, was to take care for, in Mother Teresa’s own words, and as we have chosen as her most famous line: "The hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, and all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone."
With the help of Indian officials she converted an abandoned Hindu temple into the “Kalighat” (Home for the Dying) , a free hospital for the poor.

Soon after she opened another hospital, “Nirmal Hriday” (Pure Heart). And then, a home for
lepers called “Shanti Nagar” (City of Peace), and an orphanage, just near the “City of Peace”. The order soon got many recruits and charity donations. And by the 1960s, they had opened hospitals, orphanages and leper houses all over India.

Expanding her order

In 1965, Mother Teresa got permission to expand her order to other countries. Teresa's order started to grow fast, with new homes opening all over the globe. The order's first house outside India was in Venezuela, and others followed in Rome, Tanzania, many countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, including Albania and New York.

Teresa's Fame and recognition

By the early 1970s, Mother Teresa had become an international celebrity. Her fame was mainly caused by the 1969 documentary
Something Beautiful for God by Malcolm Muggeridge and his book of the same title, which came in 1971 and is still in print.
Also Mother Teresa was awarded some prizes through the time, here’s the biggest of them:

Paul VI awarded her the first “
Pope John XXIII Peace Prize”. (1971)

The “Kennedy Prize” (

The “
Albert Schweitzer International Prize” (1975)

The “
United States Presidential Medal of Freedom” (1985)

The “
Congressional Gold Medal” (1994)

And in 1979 Teresa was awarded the “Nobel Peace Prize”. She asked if the $6,000 could be diverted to the poor in Calcutta, where she thought the money would do best. When Mother Teresa received the prize, she was asked, "What can we do to promote world peace?" Her answer was very simple and very poetic after our opinion: "Go home and love your family." In the same year, she was also awarded the “Balzan Prize” for creating peace and brotherhood among different nations.

Teresa's Health

In 1983 Teresa suffered a heart attack in Rome, while visiting Pope John Paul II. She also had a second attack in 1989. In 1991, she returned to her home country and opened a home in Tirana in Albania. She offered to resign her position as head of the order, but a secret vote was carried out, and all the nuns in Mother Teresa’s order, voted for her to stay, and so Mother Teresa agreed to continue her work as head of the Missionaries of Charity.

In April 1997, Mother Teresa fell and broke her collar bone. Later that year, in August, she suffered from malaria, and failure of the left heart ventricle. She had heart surgery, but it was clear that her time was limited.

Teresa's Death

On March 13, 1997 she stepped down from the head of Missionaries of Charity and died on the 5Th, just 9 days after her 87 birthday. At Mother Teresa death, her “Missionaries of Charity” had over 4,000 sisters, an associated brotherhood of 300 members, and over 100,000 volunteers operating on 610 missions in 123 different countries. These included hospices, soup kitchens, orphanages, schools and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis.
Her death was a great loss, not only for the people in her order and in other religions, but also her admirers and the people she had been helping. She was granted a full state funeral by the Indian Government. A great honour, which is normally only given to presidents and prime ministers. It was as a gratitude for all her services to the poor of all India. “Nawas Sharif”, the Prime Minister of Pakistan said, that Teresa was: "A rare and unique individual who lived long for higher purposes. Her life-long devotion to the care of the poor, the sick, and the disadvantaged was one of the highest examples of service to humanity."

Glosery list

Leprosy/A Leper: spedalskhed, en spedalsk

Ventricle: hjertekammer

Further information