Mother Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu was born in 1910 in Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia. Right from younger age, she felt a calling to be a nun and serve through helping the poor.
At the age of 18, she was given permission to join a group of nuns in Ireland. After a few months of training, with the Sisters of Loreto, she was then given permission to travel to India.
She came to India in 1929. She began by working as a teacher; however, the widespread poverty of Calcutta made a deep impression on her, and this led to her starting a new order called “The Missionaries of Charity”.
The primary objective of this mission was to look after people, who nobody else was prepared to look after. Mother Teresa felt that serving others was a fundamental principle of the teachings of Jesus Christ.
She experienced two particularly traumatic periods in Calcutta. The first was the Bengal famine of 1943 and the second was the Hindu/Muslim violence in 1946, before the partition of India. In 1948, she left the convent to live full-time among the poorest of Calcutta.
In 1952, she opened her first home for the dying, which allowed people to die with dignity. She often spent time with those who were dying.
In 1965, the organization became an International Religious Family by a order of Pope Paul VI.
Teresa received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding in 1962.
In 1979, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitutes a threat to peace.” She didn’t attend the ceremonial banquet but asked that the $192,000 fund be given to the poor.
She later received other Indian awards, including the Bharat Ratna (India’s highest civilian award) in 1980.
Teresa had a heart attack in Rome in 1983 while she was visiting Pope John Paul II. Her health detererioted after that. On 13 March 1997 Teresa resigned as head of the Missionaries of Charity, and she died on 5 September.
When she was asked how to promote world peace, she replied, ”Go home and love your family”.
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