Mother Teresa was born as Anjeze Gonxe Bojaxhiu on 26 th August, 1910 in Skopje which was then a part of the Ottoman Empire. She was the youngest child of her parents. She lost her father at a very early age of 8 years. She was always enthralled by the stories that she heard about India from the missionaries who worked there. Her biography recounts that she was convinced to commit herself to religious life by the age of 12.
Early Religious Life
On 15th August 1928, Teresa resolved to commit herself to God while was praying at the shrine of the Black Madonna of Vitina-Letnice. She left her home to join the Sisters of Loreto, Ireland in the same year to learn English, a mandatory language to serve as a missionary in India. She arrived in India in 1929, began her novitiate in Darjeeling and learnt Bengali at a school. She took her vows in 1931 and changed her name to Teresa, in memory of Therese, the patron saint of the missionaries.
Missionaries of Charity
Though she was quite active in teaching, she was disturbed by the sight of absolute poverty on the streets of Calcutta. The call to serve the poor came while she was travelling from Darjeeling to Calcutta in 1946. Her first move to serve the poor was to turn Indian in every form – from adopting Indian Citizenship, a change to a cotton sari as against her Loreto habit and getting fully trained to medically treat the sick. She received the medical training from Patna.
She founded the Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity in 1950 and it was aimed to feed the hungry, tend to the sick and provide a shelter to the homeless and dying mankind. She struggled in the early days of the Congregation Inception to provide for the people. She had to beg through the streets of Calcutta for food and the supplies for the needy. Her work for the lepers gained acknowledgement with the opening of several hospices. The orphans found home in her Shishu Bhavans. Very soon, the Congregation gained recognition for her relentless efforts and was funded by many. Mother Teresa’s service spread boundaries and she was operating in over 100 countries. She also received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1979.
Ailing health and death
Mother Teresa’s health took a downward trend ever since her heart attack in 1983. After an injury in 1996, her health worsened and she died on 5th September, 1997.
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Article last re-published on January 7, 2017. Original.