Mother Teresa was born Agnes Bojaxhiu to Nicolas and Rosa in Skopje, Yugoslavia on August 26, 1910. The Bojaxhiu family belonged to the Albanian minority living in what is now Macedonia. When she turned 18, she joined the Loreto nuns of Dublin, Ireland. Following a year in Dublin, she was sent to a mission of the Sisters of Loreto in Darjeeling, India on January 6, 1929. She took religious vows there on May 24, 1931, taking the name of Teresa. She was then sent to St. Mary's High School for girls in Calcutta (Kolkata), where she taught History and Geography for over fifteen years. On 24 May 1937, Sister Teresa made her final profession of vows, and, from that time on she was called Mother Teresa. Hard-working and with a natural talent for organization, she became school principal in 1944.
A yearning to serve the poorest of the poor awakened in her; she received her call from Jesus Christ to Come be my light on September 10, 1946 while on the train for her annual retreat to Darjeeling to "leave the convent and help the poor while living among them." After a course in nursing, she received permission to serve as an independent nun in the streets of Calcutta in 1948. She took temporary lodging at the Little Sisters of the Poor in Calcutta, and began her missionary work. Many followed her example of love and compassion, and she was soon joined by many others in the service of the poor. Donations began to pour in to assist her mission. She received approval for her new religious order, the Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity on October 7, 1950. She dedicated her life to caring for the poor of Calcutta, India. As St. John of the Cross and St. Therese of Lisieux before her, she experienced a painful dark night of the soul, a period of spiritual emptiness, but nonetheless continued her selfless mission. Her exceptional service to the poor was widely recognized, leading to her reception of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.
Mother Teresa celebrated Life, and was a dedicated pro-life advocate, and direct in her condemnation of abortion. She said it all in her acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize for Peace:
"I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion,
because it is a direct war, a direct killing - direct murder by the mother herself...
Because if a mother can kill her own child -
what is left for me to kill you and you to kill me - there is nothing in between."
- December 11, 1979
The charitable Mother Teresa was a symbol of love for the world. Pope John Paul II visited Mother Teresa in Calcutta in February of 1986 on his pilgrimage to India. One of her favorite visitors was Princess Diana of England, who came to her convent in Rome in February 1992; they met again in New York in June 1997, just months before both of them died. By 1997, her Sisters numbered nearly 4,000 members and were established in 610 foundations in 123 countries of the world. Mother Teresa died September 5, 1997 after 50 years of service to the poor. She received Beatification by Pope John Paul II on October 19, 2003, and was declared a Saint on September 4, 2016.
The following are three sayings of Saint Teresa, and a poem rewritten by her.
The very fact that God has placed a certain soul in our way is a sign
that God wants us to do something for him or her.
It is not chance; it has been planned by God.
We are bound by conscience to help him or her.
Once we take our eyes away from ourselves, from our interests,
from our own rights, privileges, ambitions -
then our eyes will become clear to see Jesus around us.
Keep the joy of loving Jesus in your heart
and share this joy with all you meet especially your family.
People are often unreasonable,
illogical and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind,
people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful,
you will win some false friends and true enemies;
If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you;
Be honest anyway.
What you spend years building,
someone could destroy overnight;
If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis,
it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.