Mother Teresa was born as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, she was born on the 27th of August, 1910 in Skopje, Macedonia. She died on the 5th of September, 1997 in India. Mother Teresa was the youngest of three children, her father was a successful merchant, both her mother and father were of ethnic Albanian origin and both were Catholics. Not much is known of Mother Teresa's childhood other then from her own accounts. She recounts from the day of her First Holy communion, a love for souls was within her and that she felt to help the poor, so she decided to train for missionary work in India.
When Mother Teresa was eighteen she felt it was time to fully follow her desire to do missionary work, the Vatican granted her permission to leave Skopje, so in 1928 she left to join the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known as the Sisters of Loreto, in Ireland. Mother Teresa joined the Sisters of Loreto dew to their vocation to provide education for girls, as well as them having a mission in Calcutta, India.
Mother Teresa arrived in Darjeeling in India as a novice sister in 1929. In 1931, she made her First Profession of Vows, it was here that she choose the name Sister Mary Teresa in honor of Teresa of Avila and Thérèse de Lisieux. She was assigned to the Loreto Entally community in Calcutta and taught at St. Mary’s School for girls. In 1937, she made her Final Profession of Vows, becoming, as she said, the “spouse of Jesus” for “all eternity.” Mother Teresa continued teaching at St. Mary's where in 1944 she became the schools principal.
In September, 1946 whilst traveling on a train, by her own account, she received a calling from God "to serve Him among the poorest of the poor." She continued to have interior locutions and visions over the coming weeks and months, she also said that Jesus revealed to her the desire of His heart for “victims of love” who would “radiate His love on souls.” “Come be My light,” He begged her.
Mother Teresa received permission from Pope Pius XII, via the Archbishop of Calcutta in 1948 to leave the Sisters of Loreto and live as an independent nun. She left St. Mary's high school and studied a short coarse with the Medical Mission Sisters in Patna, she found temporary lodging with the Little Sisters of the Poor in Calcutta. Mother Teresa then started an open-air school for the homeless children of the area. It didn't take long for voluntary helpers to come, she also received financial support from church organizations and the municipal authorities. With the help of some former pupils in 1949, Mother Teresa started to bring men, women and children that were left dying on the streets of Calcutta to a small rented room where they could care for these helpless people who were rejected by local hospitals.
Mother Teresa received permission from the Vatican on October 1950, that she could start her own order. Originally the Vatican named it the Diocesan Congregation of the Calcutta Diocese, but then it was later known as the Missionaries of Charity. The Charities mission in Mother Teresa's own words was to care for "the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, 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."
The Missionaries of Charity started with 12 nuns in Calcutta, today it has over 4,000 nuns running, charity center's worldwide, orphanages, AIDS hospices, caring for disabled, the blind, refugees, poor and homeless, alcoholics, the aged, the victims of famine, epidemics and floods in Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America.
The Missionaries of Charities first hospice was an abandoned Hindu temple, she called it Kalighat Home for the Dying, this was a free hospice for the poor. It wasn't long after this that she opened another hospice, Nirmal Hriday (Pure Heart), as well as Shanti Nagar (City of Peace), this was a home for lepers, an orphanage was also opened at this time. By the time the 1960's came the Missionaries of Charity had established Leper houses, orphanages and hospices all other India.
Mother Teresa requested from Pope Paul VI, in 1965 a expansion of her order into other countries, it was granted. It didn't take long for the order to open homes all over the world. Venezuela was the first country outside of India that the order opened its first house in. This was followed by Rome, Tanzania and eventually in countries throughout Africa, Asia and Europe. Mother Teresa was operating 517 missions in more than 100 countries by 1996, there are over one million coworkers worldwide that assist in the operation of these missions today.
Mother Teresa had many awards bestowed upon her throughout her life these include, Paul VI awarding her the first Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971, the same year she received the Kennedy Prize, in 1972 Mother Teresa was awarded the Nehru Prize for her promotion of international peace and understanding, the Albert Schweitzer International Prize in 1975, the Balzan prize in 1978 for humanity, peace and brotherhood among peoples, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, "for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace," the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985, the Congressional Gold Medal in 1994, and the honorary citizenship of the United States on the 16th of November, 1996.
Towards the later part of Mother Teresa's life she suffered numerous health problems including a heart attack in Rome, while visiting Pope John Paul II in 1983. In 1989 she suffered a second heart attack this time she received a pacemaker, she also suffered about of pneumonia while in Mexico. Mother teresa offered to resign her position as head of the order, the order held a secret ballot, all the nuns voted that she should stay.
In March 1997, Mother Teresa stepped down from her position of head of the Missionaries of Charity, she had a fall in which she broke her collar bone in April of that year. In August of the same year she suffered from a bout of malaria, she also had heart problems around this time and underwent heart surgery. Mother Teresa died on the 5th of September 1997, just 9 days after her 87th birthday.
She was granted a full state funeral by the Indian Government, an honor usually for presidents and prime ministers, it was a way of giving thanks to her for all the help she and her order had given to the poor of all religions in India.
Following the death of Mother Teresa the Holy See began the process of beatification, the second step towards possible sainthood, or canonization. Mother Teresa was formally beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 19, 2003 with the title Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.