St. Teresa of Calcutta
Called at a Young Age
Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu was born on August 26, 1910 in Skopje to Nikolaand Drane Bojaxhiu. At the age of five, she received her First Communionand was confirmed in November 1916. Her father, Nikola, died when shewas only eight years old. Agnes’ religious formation flourished in theSacred Heart Parish run by the Jesuits. She was very active as a youthof the parish. At age 12, she held the conviction that she was called tobe a missionary. At age 18, she joined the Institute of the BlessedVirgin Mary (Sisters of Loreto) in Ireland in September 1928. Shereceived the name “Sister Mary Teresa” after St. Therese of Lisieux.
In December 1929, she departed for her first trip to Calcutta, India andmade her first profession of vows in May 1931. On May 24, 1937, she madeher final profession of vows. From that time on she was called “MotherTeresa”. She was appointed to teach at St. Mary’s Bengali Medium Schoolfor girls. She served there for more than fifteen years and became theschool’s principal in 1944.
Her “Call Within a Call”
Mother Teresa’s stay at St. Mary’s was filled with happiness. She was ajoyful, generous and hard-working sister, noted for her charity,generosity and her holiness. But it was on September 10, 1946, while ona train ride to her annual retreat in Darjeeling, she received herinspiration, her “call within a call” as she described it. Jesus’ words“I thirst” were Mother Teresa’s whole concern. In a way she would neverexplain, Jesus’ thirst for love and for souls took hold of her. Thedesire to quench His thirst became the driving principle of her life.
By means of visions and interior locutions, Jesus revealed to her thedesire of His Heart for the poor and the unloved, those who are ignorantof Him and His longing for their love. Jesus asked Mother Teresa toestablish a religious community that is dedicated to the service of thepoor. It is only after about two years of discernment that Mother Teresareceived permission to begin Jesus’ request. Finally, on August 17,1948, she dressed for the first time in a white, blue-bordered sari andpassed through the gates of her beloved Loreto convent to enter theworld of the poor.
She went to the slums, visited families, washed the sores of children,cared for an old man lying sick on the road and nursed a woman dying ofhunger and tuberculosis. She started each of her day with the Mass then,with the Rosary in her hand, went out to find and serve Jesus among theunwanted, the poor and the unloved. After some months, she was joined byher former students.
The Birth of Missionaries of Charity
It was on October 7, 1950 that the new congregation of the Missionariesof Charity was officially established in the Archdiocese of Calcutta.After some years, Mother Teresa began to send her sisters to other partsof India. Mother Teresa and her charism has drawn so much attention andrecognition from many people all over the world. Her congregationMissionaries of Charity spread in other countries and has been active inthe service of the poor and the sick to this day.
Towards the conclusion of her life, Mother Teresa continued to guide thecongregation. She was still very vigorous and eager in responding to theneeds of the poor. She gave her blessing to her successor as Superior ofthe congregation in the year 1997, met with the then Pope John Paul IIfor the last time and returned to Calcutta. She spent her final daysgiving instructions to the sisters in the congregation and receivedvisitors, asking for her prayers. On September 5, Mother Teresa’searthly life came to an end. She was given the honor of a state funeralby the Government of India and her body was buried in the Mother Houseof the Missionaries of Charity. Her tomb quickly became a place ofpilgrimage and prayer for people of all faiths, rich and poor alike.
As a testament to her most remarkable life, Pope John Paul II permittedthe opening of her Cause of Canonization. On December 20, 2002 heapproved the decrees of her heroic virtues and miracles. Mother Teresawas beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 19, 2003. Following herbeatification, a long wait for a second miracle then followed. OnDecember 17, 2015, Pope Francis announced a second miracle had beenattributed to the intercession of Mother Teresa. This cleared the wayfor Mother Teresa’s canonization. Blessed Mother Teresa was canonizedon September 4, 2016 by Pope Francis.
Five Interesting Facts About St. Teresa of Calcutta
- St. Teresa of Calcutta was given prestigious awards, one of which
was the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, because of her humanitarian and holy
- St. Teresa of Calcutta is the patron saint of World Youth Day and of
the Missionaries of Charity. She is also co-patron of the Archdiocese of
Calcutta, alongside St. Francis Xavier.
- St. Teresa of Calcutta was fluent in five languages, English, Hindi,
Bengali, Albanian and Serbian.
- St. Teresa of Calcutta authorized Navin Chawla to write her
biography and it was published in 1992.
- St. Teresa of Calcutta was praised by pro-life organizations because
of her anti-abortion stance, as well as criticisms from
Prayer to St. Rosalia
God,who called the virgin Saint Teresa to respondto the love of your Son thirsting on the Crosswith outstanding charity to the poor,grant us, we beseech you, by her intercession,to minister to Christ in our suffering brothers and sisters.Through Christ our Lord. Amen.