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Indira Gandhi
… St. Francis' beautiful and well-loved prayer…
eloquently epitomises the gentleness, the love
and the compassion that radiate from Mother
Teresa's tiny person.
Who else in this wide world reaches out to the
friendless and the needy so naturally, so simply
so effectively? Tagore wrote "there rest Thy feet
where live the poorest, and lowliest, and lost".
That is where Mother Teresa is to be found -
with no thought of, or slightest discrimination
between colour or creed, language or country.
She lives the truth that prayer is devotion,
prayer is service. Service is her concern, her
religion, her redemption. To meet her Is to feel
utterly humble, the power of tenderness, the
strength of love.

Navin Chawla:
Mother Teresa…was hardly Albanian any longer. I knew
that she had taken Indian citizenship soon after
Independence in 1947 and that she spoke Bengali
fluently. Long years of working in the slums of Calcutta
and elsewhere in India had rendered her as Indian as
anyone in her adopted country. It was her hands and her
feet, however, that betrayed her arduous life.. Over the
years I have often cast my mind back to that morning
[when I first met her]. What was it that had made it so
special? Was it that her self-effacing presence had
scaled down the grand chamber in which we sat to her
kind of ordinariness? Was it the sari, darned neatly in
several places, or the old cloth bag with wooden
handles which she carried that contributed to her sense
of humility? Perhaps it was all ", as well as the
enchantment that clung to her because she had lived so
closely with her God.

Desmond Doig:
Mother's people are the poorest of the poor, be they in
India, where her work began, or in the affluent
countries of the world to where it has spread. Her work,
shared by a growing number of Missionaries of Charity, is
to give help and love where it is needed. The Brothers
and Sisters of the Order are today working in the
ghettos of New York, the slums of London, in Australia,
South America and in the shadow of the Vatican at the
Pope's personal request. Mother Teresa maintains that
the suffering of the poor in affluent countries is more a
searing loneliness and rejection. In India, strong bonds
of family, religion and tradition lessen the rigours of
poverty, but it is still there, a product of history,
geography and exploding population.

"By blood and origin I am all Albanian.
My citizenship is Indian.
I am a Catholic nun.
As to my calling,
I belong to the whole world.
As to my heart,
I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
The future Mother Teresa of Calcutta, was born
in Skopje, present day North Macedonia, on 26
August 1910 and baptized the following day, 27
August. She was the youngest of five children,
two of whom died in infancy. Gonxha’s parents,
Nikola and Drana Bojaxhiu, provided a loving
home for their three children. The prosperity
and security of their family life was cut short,
by Nikola’s sudden death in 1918. At the age of
twelve, Gonxha felt a call to serve the poor and
at 18 she decided to join the Institute of the
Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto nuns) in Ireland with
the intention to serve in India.

Gonxha left her home in September 1928, and upon
arrival at Rathfarnham Abbey was given the name Sister
Teresa. In December 1928 she departed for India, and
arrived in Calcutta, on 6 January 1929. After two years
of novitiate in Darjeeling, Sister Teresa made her First
Vows in May 1931. She was assigned to the Loreto
Entally community in Calcutta and taught at St. Mary’s
Bengali Medium School for girls. In May 1937, Sr. Teresa
made her final profession as a Loreto nun and from then
on was called Mother Teresa. She reassumed her duties
at St. Mary’s, and in 1944 became Principal of the
School. Mother Teresa was noted for charity,
unselfishness, courage, a capacity for hard work, a
natural talent for organization, and a joyous spirit.
Somewhat fragile she did not enjoy good health in those

On 10 September 1946, on the way to Darjeeling for her
annual retreat, Mother Teresa received what she would
name the “call within a call.” Over the course of the
next months, by means of interior locutions, Jesus asked
her to establish a religious community that would be
dedicated to the service of the poorest of the poor. She
exposed her Inspiration to the scrutiny of her spiritual
director and to the discernment of Archbishop Périer.
Both after much prayer and reflection allowed her to
take the new step.

In August 1948 Mother Teresa left Loreto convent,
Entally and went for a short Medical Training with the
Medical Missionaries in Patna. Returning to Calcutta in
December 1948, she took lodging with the Little Sisters
of the Poor and started her work in the slums, visiting
the sick, gathering and instructing little street children,
and gradually opening her first slum school and
dispensary in the Motijhil slums. The challenges and
sufferings of those early days were really great, but she
persevered in following God’s call. God rewarded her
great sacrifices with vocations, benefactors and a
flourishing mission. On 7 October 1950, the new
congregation of the Missionaries of Charity was officially
erected as a religious institute in the Archdiocese of

In order to meet the various types of poverty that she
encountered as her mission was expanding, besides the
Missionaries of Charity Sisters, Mother Teresa initiated
the Missionaries of Charity Brothers in 1963, and in later
years the contemplative branches (Sisters and Brothers)
and the branch of priests. From the beginning of her
mission among the poor, a great number of lay people
shared in her work, and eventually consolidated into an
International and Inter-religious association known as
“The Co-workers of Mother Teresa.”

Despite her age and increasing health problems, Mother
Teresa travelled across the world serving the poor and
disaster-stricken, opening new houses where need
aroused. She was also invited to speak at innumerable
public gatherings.

On 5 September, she died at the Mother House of the
Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta. Her body was
transferred to St Thomas’ Church, next to the Loreto
convent where she had first arrived nearly sixty-nine
years earlier. Hundreds of thousands of people from all
classes and all religions, from India and abroad, paid
their respects. She received a state funeral on
13 September, and after processing through the streets
of Calcutta, was buried in the Mother House of the
Missionaries of Charity. Her tomb became a pilgrim site
and a place of prayer for people of all faiths and walks
of life.

On 19 October 2003 Pope John Paul II declared her
‘Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’, and on 4 September 2016,
Pope Francis declared her ‘Saint Teresa of Calcutta’,
thus placing her among the Saints of the Catholic
Church. For the poor, for children, for all who knew and
loved her and who pray to her, she continues to be “Mother”.

The Missionaries of Charity continued to grow after
Mother Teresa’s death. In 2020 there are 5191 Sisters in
762 missions in 139 countries continuing Mother Teresa’s
legacy and giving wholehearted and free service to the
poorest of the poor.