One of the most well-known facts of Mother Teresa is that she was an internationally acclaimed humanitarian and the founder of "The Missionaries of Charity". What many of us do not know is that at a very young age, she was so deeply moved by the sufferings and miseries of other people that she dedicated her entire life for serving the lives of poor and helpless people.
Important Mother Teresa Facts
This section highlights the biography of Mother Teresa in a nutshell that will help you to understand how she achieved such great heights of humanity that makes her so admirable. Read through to know about Mother Teresa's life and accomplishments:
- Mother Teresa was born on 26th of August 1910 in Skopje, Macedonia. However, she always believed 27th August to be her "actual birthday" because on this date she was baptized. Even though her actual birthplace is Albania, in the later part of her life she became an Indian citizen.
- She was born to Nikollë and Drana Bojaxhiu and was the youngest of their three children. Her real name was Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. Interestingly, 'gonxha' is an Albanian word which means 'rosebud' or 'little flower'. She got the name Teresa on May 24, 1931, when she was taking her first religious vows as a nun. She chose this name for herself after St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
- Little Agnes was brought up by her parents with strong religious values. Many of you will be surprised to know that when she was just 12 years old, she had decided to be a missionary. It was at the age of 18 years, she went on to join Sisters of Loreto which was an Irish community of nuns that was working on various missions in India.
- After completion of a brief training period in Dublin, she had to go to India for the mission where she served as a teacher at St. Mary's High School in Calcutta and taught geography and catechism there. She continued as a teacher in this school for almost 20 long years.
- The period between 1931 and 1948 was a turning point in Mother Teresa's life as she saw the sufferings of poverty stricken people from very close quarters. She felt the need to do something for the underprivileged in the society. In 1948, she was granted permission by her superiors to leave the convent so that she can dedicate herself completely to the cause of needy people.
- In 1948, Mother Teresa acquired Indian citizenship and started her mission to look after the poor and homeless people. Before venturing into the work for the welfare of the destitute, she took a medical training from Holy Family Hospital, Patna for a few months. Then she went on to start an open-air school for children dwelling in the slums of Calcutta. The initial days were quite tough as there were no funds with her. However, as time went by, several volunteers joined hands with her and financial support also poured in from church organizations and municipal authorities.
- It was on October 7, 1950, she received permission from the Vatican to establish "The Missionaries of Charity". The primary mission of her organization is to provide a dignified life to all those people who have nobody to take care of. In the beginning, it was a small setup with just 13 members with only one center in Calcutta. Today, it has more than 550 centers spread across 126 countries worldwide. They provide medical as well as emotional care to the poorest of the poor, blind, physically disabled, diseased and elderly people who badly need help from others. They also take up relief work in the event of natural calamities like flood, famine or epidemics.
- Mother Teresa has received several awards for her work and accomplishments. In 1979, she won Nobel Peace Prize for her outstanding humanitarian work. Prior to that, she received Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971 and Balzan Prize in 1978. She received a number of awards from the Indian government. It includes Padma Shri in 1962 and the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding in 1969. Later on, in 1980, she was honored with Bharat Ratna which is the highest civilian award for her service to the nation.
- Mother Teresa's health started deteriorating in 1983 when she suffered first heart attack. Again, in 1989, she got another attack. In the year 1997, she stepped down from the position of head of the Missionaries of Charity because of her failing health condition. On the 5th of September 1997, Mother Teresa breathed her last at the age of 87 in Calcutta after suffering a massive heart attack.
Mother Teresa once described her life as: "By blood and origin I am Albanian. My citizenship is Indian. I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the whole world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the heart of Jesus". The most inspiring aspect about the life of Mother Teresa is that she had a humble beginning but made a great impact on the entire society with her sheer love, dedication and passion to serve the poor and the destitute.