|Nick Name:||Blessed Teresa of Calcutta|
|Height:||152 cm (4' 12'')|
|Birth Day:||August 26, 1910|
|Death Date:||Sep 5, 1997 (age 87)|
|Birth Place:||Skopje, Macedonia|
As per our current Database, Mother Teresa died on Sep 5, 1997 (age 87).
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
|152 cm (4' 12'')||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
She grew up in the Ottoman Empire, where stories of missionaries in Bengal convinced her to devote her life to faith at the age of 12.
Teresa was born Anjezë Gonxhe (or Gonxha) Bojaxhiu (Albanian: [aˈɲɛzə ˈɡɔndʒɛ bɔjaˈdʒiu]; Anjezë is a cognate of "Agnes"; Gonxhe means "rosebud" or "little flower" in Albanian) on 26 August 1910 into a Kosovar Albanian family in Skopje, Ottoman Empire (now the capital of North Macedonia). She was baptised in Skopje, the day after her birth. She later considered 27 August, the day she was baptised, her "true birthday".
She was the youngest child of Nikollë and Dranafile Bojaxhiu (Bernai). Her father, who was involved in Albanian-community politics in Ottoman Macedonia, died in 1919 when she was eight years old. He was born in Prizren (today in Kosovo), however, his family was from Mirdita (present-day Albania). Her mother may have been from a village near Gjakova.
According to a biography by Joan Graff Clucas, Teresa was in her early years when she was fascinated by stories of the lives of missionaries and their service in Bengal; by age 12, she was convinced that she should commit herself to religious life. Her resolve strengthened on 15 August 1928 as she prayed at the shrine of the Black Madonna of Vitina-Letnice, where she often went on pilgrimages.
Teresa left home in 1928 at age 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto at Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham, Ireland, to learn English with the intent of becoming a missionary; English was the language of instruction of the Sisters of Loreto in India. She neither saw her mother, nor her sister again. Her family lived in Skopje until 1934, when they moved to Tirana.
She arrived in India in 1929 and began her novitiate in Darjeeling, in the lower Himalayas, where she learned Bengali and taught at St. Teresa's School near her convent. Teresa took her first religious vows on 24 May 1931. She chose to be named after Thérèse de Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries; because a nun in the convent had already chosen that name, she opted for its Spanish spelling (Teresa).
Teresa took her solemn vows on 14 May 1937 while she was a teacher at the Loreto convent school in Entally, eastern Calcutta. She served there for nearly twenty years and was appointed its headmistress in 1944. Although Teresa enjoyed teaching at the school, she was increasingly disturbed by the poverty surrounding her in Calcutta. The Bengal famine of 1943 brought misery and death to the city, and the August 1946 Direct Action Day began a period of Muslim-Hindu violence.
On 10 September 1946, Teresa experienced what she later described as "the call within the call" when she traveled by train to the Loreto convent in Darjeeling from Calcutta for her annual retreat. "I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them. It was an order. To fail would have been to break the faith." Joseph Langford later wrote, "Though no one knew it at the time, Sister Teresa had just become Mother Teresa".
She began missionary work with the poor in 1948, replacing her traditional Loreto habit with a simple, white cotton sari with a blue border. Teresa adopted Indian citizenship, spent several months in Patna to receive basic medical training at Holy Family Hospital and ventured into the slums. She founded a school in Motijhil, Kolkata, before she began tending to the poor and hungry. At the beginning of 1949 Teresa was joined in her effort by a group of young women, and she laid the foundation for a new religious community helping the "poorest among the poor".
During this visit to Darjeeling by train, she heard the call of her inner conscious. She felt that she should serve the poor by staying with them. She left the school. In 1950 she founded ‘Missionaries of Charity'. She went out to serve humanity with two saris with a blue border.
On 7 October 1950, Teresa received Vatican permission for the diocesan congregation, which would become the Missionaries of Charity. In her words, it would 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".
In 1952, Teresa opened her first hospice with help from Calcutta officials. She converted an abandoned Hindu temple into the Kalighat Home for the Dying, free for the poor, and renamed it Kalighat, the Home of the Pure Heart (Nirmal Hriday). Those brought to the home received medical attention and the opportunity to die with dignity in accordance with their faith: Muslims were read the Quran, Hindus received water from the Ganges, and Catholics received extreme unction. "A beautiful death", Teresa said, "is for people who lived like animals to die like angels—loved and wanted."
She opened a hospice for those with leprosy, calling it Shanti Nagar (City of Peace). The Missionaries of Charity established leprosy-outreach clinics throughout Calcutta, providing medication, dressings and food. The Missionaries of Charity took in an increasing number of homeless children; in 1955 Teresa opened Nirmala Shishu Bhavan, the Children's Home of the Immaculate Heart, as a haven for orphans and homeless youth.
After ten years of doubt, Teresa described a brief period of renewed faith. After Pope Pius XII's death in 1958, she was praying for him at a requiem mass when she was relieved of "the long darkness: that strange suffering." However, five weeks later her spiritual dryness returned.
Teresa was first recognised by the Indian government more than a third of a century earlier, receiving the Padma Shri in 1962 and the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding in 1969. She later received other Indian awards, including the Bharat Ratna (India's highest civilian award) in 1980. Teresa's official biography, by Navin Chawla, was published in 1992. In Kolkata, she is worshipped as a deity by some Hindus.
Teresa received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding, given for work in South or East Asia, in 1962. According to its citation, "The Board of Trustees recognises her merciful cognisance of the abject poor of a foreign land, in whose service she has led a new congregation". By the early 1970s, she was an international celebrity. Teresa's fame may be partially attributed to Malcolm Muggeridge's 1969 documentary, Something Beautiful for God, and his 1971 book of the same name. Muggeridge was undergoing a spiritual journey of his own at the time. During filming, footage shot in poor lighting (particularly at the Home for the Dying) was thought unlikely to be usable by the crew. In England, the footage was found to be extremely well-lit and Muggeridge called it a miracle of "divine light" from Teresa. Other crew members said that it was due to a new type of ultra-sensitive Kodak film. Muggeridge later converted to Catholicism.
The Missionaries of Charity Brothers was founded in 1963, and a contemplative branch of the Sisters followed in 1976. Lay Catholics and non-Catholics were enrolled in the Co-Workers of Mother Teresa, the Sick and Suffering Co-Workers, and the Lay Missionaries of Charity. Responding to requests by many priests, in 1981 Mother Teresa founded the Corpus Christi Movement for Priests and with Joseph Langford the Missionaries of Charity Fathers in 1984, to combine the vocational aims of the Missionaries of Charity with the resources of the priesthood.
The congregation began to attract recruits and donations, and by the 1960s it had opened hospices, orphanages and leper houses throughout India. Teresa then expanded the congregation abroad, opening a house in Venezuela in 1965 with five sisters. Houses followed in Italy (Rome), Tanzania and Austria in 1968, and during the 1970s the congregation opened houses and foundations in the United States and dozens of countries in Asia, Africa and Europe.
Around this time, the Catholic world began to honour Teresa publicly. Pope Paul VI gave her the inaugural Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971, commending her work with the poor, display of Christian charity and efforts for peace, and she received the Pacem in Terris Award in 1976. After her death, Teresa progressed rapidly on the road to sainthood.
Universities in India and the West granted her honorary degrees. Other civilian awards included the Balzan Prize for promoting humanity, peace and brotherhood among peoples (1978) and the Albert Schweitzer International Prize (1975). In April 1976 Teresa visited the University of Scranton in northeastern Pennsylvania, where she received the La Storta Medal for Human Service from university president William J. Byron. She challenged an audience of 4,500 to "know poor people in your own home and local neighbourhood", feeding others or simply spreading joy and love, and continued: "The poor will help us grow in sanctity, for they are Christ in the guise of distress". In August 1987 Teresa received an honorary doctor of social science degree, in recognition of her service and her ministry to help the destitute and sick, from the university. She spoke to over 4,000 students and members of the Diocese of Scranton about her service to the "poorest of the poor", telling them to "do small things with great love".
In 1979, Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize "for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitutes a threat to peace". She refused the conventional ceremonial banquet for laureates, asking that its $192,000 cost be given to the poor in India and saying that earthly rewards were important only if they helped her to help the world's needy. When Teresa received the prize she was asked, "What can we do to promote world peace?" She answered, "Go home and love your family." Building on this theme in her Nobel lecture, she said: "Around the world, not only in the poor countries, but I found the poverty of the West so much more difficult to remove. When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread, I have satisfied. I have removed that hunger. But a person that is shut out, that feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person that has been thrown out from society – that poverty is so hurtable [sic] and so much, and I find that very difficult." Teresa singled out abortion as "the greatest destroyer of peace today. Because if a mother can kill her own child – what is left for me to kill you and you kill me – there is nothing between."
At the height of the Siege of Beirut in 1982, Teresa rescued 37 children trapped in a front-line hospital by brokering a temporary cease-fire between the Israeli army and Palestinian guerrillas. Accompanied by Red Cross workers, she travelled through the war zone to the hospital to evacuate the young patients.
She was honoured by governments and civilian organisations, and appointed an honorary Companion of the Order of Australia in 1982 "for service to the community of Australia and humanity at large". The United Kingdom and the United States bestowed a number of awards, culminating in the Order of Merit in 1983 and honorary citizenship of the United States on 16 November 1996. Teresa's Albanian homeland gave her the Golden Honour of the Nation in 1994, but her acceptance of this and the Haitian Legion of Honour was controversial. Teresa was criticised for implicitly supporting the Duvaliers and corrupt businessmen such as Charles Keating and Robert Maxwell; she wrote to the judge of Keating's trial, requesting clemency.
Teresa had a heart attack in Rome in 1983 while she was visiting Pope John Paul II. Following a second attack in 1989, she received an artificial pacemaker. In 1991, after a bout of pneumonia in Mexico, she had additional heart problems. Although Teresa offered to resign as head of the Missionaries of Charity, in a secret ballot the sisters of the congregation voted for her to stay and she agreed to continue.
Mother Teresa Women's University, in Kodaikanal, was established in 1984 as a public university by the government of Tamil Nadu. The Mother Theresa Postgraduate and Research Institute of Health Sciences, in Pondicherry, was established in 1999 by the government of Puducherry. The charitable organisation Sevalaya runs the Mother Teresa Girls Home, providing poor and orphaned girls near the underserved village of Kasuva in Tamil Nadu with free food, clothing, shelter and education. A number of tributes by Teresa's biographer, Navin Chawla, have appeared in Indian newspapers and magazines. Indian Railways introduced the "Mother Express", a new train named after Mother Teresa, on 26 August 2010 to commemorate the centenary of her birth. The Tamil Nadu government organised centenary celebrations honouring Teresa on 4 December 2010 in Chennai, headed by chief minister M Karunanidhi. Beginning on 5 September 2013, the anniversary of her death has been designated the International Day of Charity by the United Nations General Assembly.
The Roman Catholic Church declared St. Francis Xavier the first patron saint of Calcutta in 1986.
Teresa travelled to assist the hungry in Ethiopia, radiation victims at Chernobyl and earthquake victims in Armenia. In 1991 she returned to Albania for the first time, opening a Missionaries of Charity Brothers home in Tirana.
By 1996, Teresa operated 517 missions in over 100 countries. Her Missionaries of Charity grew from twelve to thousands, serving the "poorest of the poor" in 450 centres worldwide. The first Missionaries of Charity home in the United States was established in the South Bronx area of New York City, and by 1984 the congregation operated 19 establishments throughout the country.
In April 1996 she fell, breaking her collarbone, and four months later she had malaria and heart failure. Although Teresa had heart surgery, her health was clearly declining. According to Archbishop of Calcutta Henry Sebastian D'Souza, he ordered a priest to perform an exorcism (with her permission) when she was first hospitalized with cardiac problems because he thought she might be under attack by the devil.
By 1997, the 13-member Calcutta congregation had grown to more than 4,000 sisters who managed orphanages, AIDS hospices and charity centers worldwide, caring for refugees, the blind, disabled, aged, alcoholics, the poor and homeless and victims of floods, epidemics and famine. By 2007, the Missionaries of Charity numbered about 450 brothers and 5,000 sisters worldwide, operating 600 missions, schools and shelters in 120 countries.
On 13 March 1997 Teresa resigned as head of the Missionaries of Charity, and she died on 5 September. At the time of her death, the Missionaries of Charity had over 4,000 sisters and an associated brotherhood of 300 members operating 610 missions in 123 countries. These included hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, soup kitchens, children's-and family-counselling programmes, orphanages and schools. The Missionaries of Charity were aided by co-workers numbering over one million by the 1990s.
After Teresa's death in 1997, the Holy See began the process of beatification (the second of three steps towards canonisation) and Kolodiejchuk was appointed postulator by the Diocese of Calcutta. Although he said, "We didn't have to prove that she was perfect or never made a mistake ...", he had to prove that Teresa's virtue was heroic. Kolodiejchuk submitted 76 documents, totalling 35,000 pages, which were based on interviews with 113 witnesses who were asked to answer 263 questions.
During her lifetime, Teresa was among the top 10 women in the annual Gallup's most admired man and woman poll 18 times, finishing first several times in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1999 she headed Gallup's List of Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century, out-polling all other volunteered answers by a wide margin, and was first in all major demographic categories except the very young.
During Teresa's beatification and canonisation, the Roman Curia (the Vatican) studied published and unpublished criticism of her life and work. Hitchens and Chatterjee (author of The Final Verdict, a book critical of Teresa) spoke to the tribunal; according to Vatican officials, the allegations raised were investigated by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The group found no obstacle to Teresa's canonisation, and issued its nihil obstat on 21 April 1999. Because of the attacks on her, some Catholic writers called her a sign of contradiction. Teresa was beatified on 19 October 2003, and was known by Catholics as "Blessed".
The process of canonisation requires the documentation of a miracle resulting from the intercession of the prospective saint. In 2002 the Vatican recognised as a miracle the healing of a tumour in the abdomen of Monica Besra, an Indian woman, after the application of a locket containing Teresa's picture. According to Besra, a beam of light emanated from the picture and her cancerous tumour was cured; however, her husband and some of her medical staff said that conventional medical treatment eradicated the tumour. Dr. Ranjan Mustafi, who told The New York Times he had treated Besra, said that the cyst was caused by tuberculosis: "It was not a miracle ... She took medicines for nine months to one year." According to Besra's husband, "My wife was cured by the doctors and not by any miracle ... This miracle is a hoax." Besra said that her medical records, including sonograms, prescriptions and physicians' notes, were confiscated by Sister Betta of the Missionaries of Charity. According to Time, calls to Sister Betta and the office of Sister Nirmala (Teresa's successor as head of the order) elicited no comment. Officials at Balurghat Hospital, where Besra sought medical treatment, said that they were pressured by the order to call her cure miraculous. In February 2000, former West Bengal health minister Partho De ordered a review of Besra's medical records at the Department of Health in Kolkata. According to De, there was nothing unusual about her illness and cure based on her lengthy treatment. He said that he had refused to give the Vatican the name of a doctor who would certify that Monica Besra's healing was a miracle.
Indian views of Teresa are not uniformly favorable. Aroup Chatterjee, a physician born and raised in Calcutta who was an activist in the city's slums for years around 1980 before moving to the UK, said that he "never even saw any nuns in those slums". His research, involving more than 100 interviews with volunteers, nuns and others familiar with the Missionaries of Charity, was described in a 2003 book critical of Teresa. Chatterjee criticized her for promoting a "cult of suffering" and a distorted, negative image of Calcutta, exaggerating work done by her mission and misusing funds and privileges at her disposal. According to him, some of the hygiene problems he had criticized (needle reuse, for example) improved after Teresa's death in 1997.
One of Teresa's most outspoken critics was English journalist, literary critic and antitheist Christopher Hitchens, host of the documentary Hell's Angel (1994) and author of the essay The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice (1995) who wrote in a 2003 article: "This returns us to the medieval corruption of the church, which sold indulgences to the rich while preaching hellfire and continence to the poor. [Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction." He accused her of hypocrisy for choosing advanced treatment for her heart condition. Hitchens said that "her intention was not to help people", and that she lied to donors about how their contributions were used. "It was by talking to her that I discovered, and she assured me, that she wasn't working to alleviate poverty", he said, "She was working to expand the number of Catholics. She said, 'I'm not a social worker. I don't do it for this reason. I do it for Christ. I do it for the church.'" Although Hitchens thought he was the only witness called by the Vatican, Aroup Chatterjee (author of Mother Teresa: The Untold Story) was also called to present evidence opposing Teresa's beatification and canonisation; the Vatican had abolished the traditional "devil's advocate", which served a similar purpose.
Teresa has been commemorated by museums and named the patroness of a number of churches. She has had buildings, roads and complexes named after her, including Albania's international airport. Mother Teresa Day (Dita e Nënë Terezës), 19 October, is a public holiday in Albania. In 2009 the Memorial House of Mother Teresa was opened in her hometown of Skopje, North Macedonia. The Roman Catholic cathedral in Pristina, Kosovo, is named in her honour. Its construction, begun in 2011, sparked controversy in Muslim circles who saw it as oversized relative to the number of Catholics in the area. An initiative to erect a monument to Teresa in the town of Peć (according to activists, 98 percent Muslim) was opposed by Kosovo Muslims.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of her birth, the government of India issued a special ₹5 coin (the amount of money Teresa had when she arrived in India) on 28 August 2010. President Pratibha Patil said, "Clad in a white sari with a blue border, she and the sisters of Missionaries of Charity became a symbol of hope to many – the aged, the destitute, the unemployed, the diseased, the terminally ill, and those abandoned by their families."
In 2012, Teresa was ranked number 5 in Outlook India's poll of the Greatest Indian.
In February 2015 Mohan Bhagwat, leader of the Hindu right-wing organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, said that Teresa's objective was "to convert the person, who was being served, into a Christian". Former RSS spokesperson M. G. Vaidhya supported Bhagwat's assessment, and the organization accused the media of "distorting facts about Bhagwat's remarks". Trinamool Congress MP Derek O'Brien, CPI leader Atul Anjan and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal protested Bhagwat's statement.
On 17 December 2015, the Vatican Press Office confirmed that Pope Francis recognised a second miracle attributed to Teresa: the healing of a Brazilian man with multiple brain tumours back in 2008. The miracle first came to the attention of the postulation (officials managing the cause) during the events of World Youth Day 2013 when the pope was in Brazil that July. A subsequent investigation took place in Brazil from 19–26 June 2015 which was later transferred to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints who issued a decree recognizing the investigation to be completed.
Francis canonised her at a ceremony on 4 September 2016 in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. Tens of thousands of people witnessed the ceremony, including 15 government delegations and 1,500 homeless people from across Italy. It was televised live on the Vatican channel and streamed online; Skopje, Teresa's hometown, announced a week-long celebration of her canonisation. In India, a special Mass was celebrated by the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata.
On 4 September 2017, during a celebration honoring the 1st anniversary of her canonization, Sister Mary Prema Pierick, Superior-General of the Missionaries of Charity, announced that Teresa would be made the co-patron of the Calcutta Archdiocese during a Mass in the Cathedral of the Most Holy Rosary at 5.30 pm on 6 September 2017. On 5 September 2017, Archbishop Thomas D'Souza, who serves as head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Calcutta, confirmed that Teresa will be named co-patron of the Calcutta Diocese, alongside Francis Xavier. On 6 September 2017, about 500 people attended the Mass at a cathedral where Dominique Gomes, the local Vicar General, read the decree instituting her as the second patron saint of the archdiocese. The ceremony was also presided over by D'Souza and the Vatican's ambassador to India, Giambattista Diquattro, who lead the Mass and inaugurated a bronze statue in the church of Mother Teresa carrying a child.
On 5 September 2017, St. Teresa Cathedral, the first Roman Catholic cathedral named in Teresa's honor, was consecrated in Kosovo. The Cathedral is also Kosovo's first Roman Catholic cathedral as well.
Currently, Mother Teresa is 111 years, 3 months and 13 days old. Mother Teresa will celebrate 112th birthday on a Friday 26th of August 2022.
Find out about Mother Teresa birthday activities in timeline view here.