Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu was born on August 26, 1910 in Skopje into a wealthy Albanian family. At the age of eight she was orphaned and her family found themselves in dire financial straits. At the age of ten, she participated for fourteen years in the activities of the parish of the Sacred Heart of Skopje helping poor people.
In 1928, at the age of eighteen, she decided to try to enter the Sisters of Loreto as an aspirant. After the first interview in Paris, she was sent to Dublin, where she stayed six weeks to receive the postulant’s veil. In January 1929 she reached India, stopped in Calcutta, and was later sent to Darjeeling to continue her training. Here she stayed for two years and studied English and Bengali. She also worked as an assistant nurse and on 24 May 1931 she decided to call herself Maria Teresa.
After taking her vows, Teresa went to Calcutta and worked for 17 years at the Catholic college of Saint Mary’s High School. She taught history and geography and was able to study the Hindi language. The rule of the Sisters of Loreto did not allow her to go far from the convent but she was able to be more and more aware of the poor living conditions in the slums, especially in that of Motijhil. In 1937 Maria Teresa went to Darjeeling and was called Mother Teresa, and this name she kept for her whole life.
Then she returned to Calcutta, and took on various organizational responsibilities, in fact, in 1944, she was appointed director of the school. In 1950 Mother Teresa of Calcutta founded the Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity. The goal was to take care of the poorest people, the marginalized from society and from hospitals. In a very short time many people offered their help to help the “caste of the untouchables”.
In 1953 the sisters moved to a larger location, and the Kalighat House was also inaugurated where the sick were helped. In 1965 Pope Paul VI granted the Missionaries of Charity the opportunity to help the poor even outside India, so they first went to Venezuela then to Africa, America and Asia. In the 1980s, the friendship between Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa of Calcutta was born, and in 1979 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
The last years of Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s life were marked by illness. In 1989 she had a heart attack, in 1993 she fell ill with malaria and in 1996 she broke her collarbone. On 5th September she died in Calcutta at the age of 87.
On 4th September, 2016 she was canonized as a Roman Catholic Saint by Pope Francis I.