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People: Mother Teresa
Why is Mother Teresa so famous?
Mother Teresa was born on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, the current capital of the Republic of Macedonia. On August 27, 1910 she was baptised as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. It was not until later that she was to take the name Mother Teresa.
Agnes came from a devoutly Catholic family, and her parents were involved in the local church. Sadly, when Agnes was only young her father died and her mother had to bring her up on her own. It was from her mother, Drana, that Agnes learnt the importance of caring for all people. The story is told that Drana Bojaxhiu always opened her home to the city's poor and homeless who would often eat with the family. She would say:
"My child, never eat a single mouthful unless you are sharing it with others. Some of them are our relations, but all of them are our people."
Always a strong Catholic, at the age of 18 Agnes decided to become a nun and went to live in Ireland to join the Loreto Sisters of Dublin. It was there that she took the name Sister Mary Teresa. During the following year, Sister Teresa left Ireland and went to India. Eventually, she was sent to Calcutta where she became a teacher in a school run by the Loreto Sisters.
The school had been established to help the girls from the city’s poorest families. It was during her time at the school that Sister Teresa took her final vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Following the traditions of the Loreto Sisters, she then took on the title of Mother Teresa. On September 10, 1946, Mother Teresa experienced a second calling that would forever transform her life.
She was riding in a train from Calcutta to the Himalayan foothills when she heard Christ speak to her. Mother Teresa knew that God told her to leave teaching completely in order to work in the slums of Calcutta helping the city's poorest and sickest people. Mother Teresa was determined to turn this calling into concrete action. This wasn't a simple task in India in 1948. She had very little support and, while trying to feed and help the poorest of the poor, she herself was constantly hungry.
Soon other women joined her, and she formed the 'Order of the Missionaries of Charity.' Mother Teresa described the purpose of the Missionaries of Charity as an organization to take care of '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.'
Mother Teresa has received numerous honours for her work, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Mother Teresa died on 5th September 1997, at the age of 87 but her work continues.
In September 2016, Mother Teresa was declared a saint by the Catholic Church in 2016, becoming known as Saint Teresa of Calcutta.
You can find out even more about Mother Teresa here.