(Last Updated on : 11/12/2012)
Mother Teresa, also known as Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, was an Albanian Roman Catholic nun who established the Missionaries of Charity
in Calcutta (now Kolkata
), in the year 1950, to help the sick and the poor. She helped the destitute, orphaned, sick and dying people in the Indian city through her Missionaries of Charity
, which later expanded to other parts of the country. After her death, Pope John Paul II bestowed the title Blessed Teresa of Calcutta to the devoted and much respected nun. Mother Teresa was one of the greatest women in the history of the world, who dedicated her entire life for serving humanity. An Albanian Catholic, Mother Teresa was not an Indian by birth but dedicated her life for the poverty stricken and grieved masses of India. Her selfless work towards the betterment of the poverty stricken and down trodden is a glowing inspiration for all. Compassion, dignity and sympathy are the words that can describe Mother Teresa best and her every action was marked by these virtues.
Early Life of Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa was born as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Macedonia (then Yugoslavia) on 26th August, 1910. She was the youngest of the three siblings. She decided to work for the charity and at the age of 17 joined the catholic missionary as a nun. Later when she joined an Irish order, the Sisters of Loreto, she took the name Teresa. Teresa came to India in 1929, and on 24th May, 1931 she took her first religious vows as a nun. At that time Teresa taught geography and Catholicism at the St. Mary`s School in Kolkata
and was appointed the head mistress of the school in 1944. She was sent back to Darjeeling district
on being diagnosed with tuberculosis. On the way back to Darjeeling in train she received what she called `the call within the call and dedicated herself for missionary work following her departure from the Sisters of Loreto in 1948.
Social Services of Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa soon became engaged with her charity work and received training on the basics of medicine from the Holy Family Hospital. She established a school in the slums for educating the poor children and also aided the poor of their sickness. She was joined in her effort by a group of voluntary helpers who initially rented a house for their selfless work. Later on October 7, 1950 Mother Teresa was granted permission from the Vatican to an order named as the Diocesan Congregation of the Calcutta Diocese which later came to be called as the Missionaries of Charity.
The Missionaries of Charity
which was set in motion with just 12 members now has thousands serving the poor. With over 500 centres in more than 100 countries, the missionary runs AIDS hospices, orphanages, charity centres worldwide, and caring for disabled, aged, alcoholics, refugees, the blind, the poor and homeless and victims of floods, epidemics and famine in Asia, Africa, Latin America, North America, Poland, and Australia. In 1952 the Home for the dying was made available by the city of Kolkata. Mother Teresa also opened a hospice Shanti Nagar for the leprosy patients and Nirmala Shishu Bhavan for orphans and homeless children.
In the year 1966, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity Brothers. Her missionaries outstretched to the corners of the world and established themselves in countries like Venezuela, Rome, Tanzania, Austria, Asia, Africa, Europe and the United States. Soon homes began to spring-up for drug addicts, prostitutes, battered women, orphanages and schools for poor children around the world. In 1985, Mother Teresa also developed hospice in New York for the AIDS victims. Mother Teresa travelled to far off countries to meet the needs of the destitute. She went to render service to the hungry in Ethiopia, radiation victims at Chernobyl, and earthquake victims in Armenia.
Awards and Recognitions of Mother Teresa
For her selfless and devoted service for the deprived and underprivileged, Mother Teresa was conferred with the most coveted and the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize and the Pope Jon XXIII in the year 1979. She was also awarded with the Medal of Freedom, the highest US civilian award. She has been also bestowed with honorary US citizenship. For her extraordinary contribution to humanity she was honoured with the Padma Shree
award in 1962 and the Jawaharlal Nehru
Award for International Understanding in 1969. In 1980 she received India`s highest civilian award by the Government of India
, the Bharat Ratna
The Mother left the earthly abode on 5th September, 1997. She was given a state funeral by the Indian Government in appreciation of her self-sacrificing service to the nation.