Mother Teresa dedicated her life to serving others. For over 40 years, she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, or dying. Mother Teresa was known world-wide for her humanitarian works. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her humanitarian work. An international symbol of hope and compassion, Mother Teresa’s legacy still lives on.
On August 26, 1910 Agnes Gonxha (Albanian for “rosebud”) Bojaxhiu came into this world. Her father was involved in politics and in 1919; he fell ill and died at a political meeting. Teresa was raised as a Roman Catholic and by age 12 she was convinced she wanted to commit herself to a religious life. At age 18, she left her home and joined the Sisters of Loreto as a missionary. In 1931, she took her first vows as a nun and took the name Teresa. In 1937, she took her solemn vows. Teresa taught at the Loreto convent and during this time, she was always concerned by the famine, poverty and misery surrounding her in the outlaying cities. Teresa believed in all people and in all their beliefs, she once said; “By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”
The Missionaries of Charity
In 1948, Teresa received permission to leave to convent and work among the poor in Calcutta. On October 7, 1950 Teresa was granted permission from the Vatican to start her own order, “The Missionaries of Charity.” It started as a small order of 13 people and now consists of over 4,000 nuns. The Missionaries of Charity believe in caring for the unwanted, the uncared, and the unloved in society.
In 1952, Teresa opened the First Home for Dying. Anyone brought to the house received medical care and were allowed to die with dignity and the rituals of their faith.
During this time, Malcolm Muggeridge wrote “Something Beautiful for God.” This book was about Mother Teresa’s work and brought world-wide attention to her humanitarian work.
In 1982, Mother Teresa rescued 37 children trapped in a front line hospital during the Seize of Beirut. From here on, Teresa devoted her life to word-wide humanitarian efforts. By 1996, she was operating 517 missions in 100 countries.
The End of Life
Teresa’s health began to decline in the 1980’s. She suffered a heart attack in 1983 while visiting the Pope. In 1991 she suffered pneumonia that lead to more heart problems. In 1996, she fell and broke her collarbone, suffered from malaria and had heart surgery. On September 5, 1997 she passed away; shortly after her 87th birthday.
Awards and Recognition
During her life, Mother Teresa received numerous awards including:
• The first Pope John XXIII Peace Prize. (1971)
• Kennedy Prize (1971)
• The Nehru Prize –“for promotion of international peace and understanding”(1972)
• Albert Schweitzer International Prize (1975),
• The Nobel Peace Prize (1979)
• States Presidential Medal of Freedom (1985)
• Congressional Gold Medal (1994)
• Honorary citizenship of the United States (November 16, 1996)
Mother Teresa’s compassionate service to the world has left a wonderful impression on humanity. Teresa believed in marriage and working hard with whatever circumstance you may be in. During her acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize, Teresa stated:
“I choose the poverty of our poor people. But I am grateful to receive (the Nobel) in the name of the hungry, the naked, the homeless, of the crippled, of the blind, of the lepers, of 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.”