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Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Nobel Peace Prize, Patron Saint of World Youth Day,

Feast Day - September 5

Lived (August 26, 1910 – September 5, 1997)

Patron Saint of World Youth Day, Missionary Sisters of Charity and the Archdiocese of Calcutta

Mother Teresa, as she is usually called is a skinny woman recognized in the whole world for her work among the poorest of the poor. Members of the Order she founded in 1950—Missionaries of Charity, a diocesan religious community—were present in hundreds at her canonization in 2016. Presently, the congregation has contemplative sisters and brothers and an order of priests.

Born on August 26, 1910, in the then Albania, in what is now known as Skopje, Macedonia, to a well-to-do family. Gonxha (Agnes) Bojaxhiu was the youngest of the three children who survived. The family's well being changed overnight when her father died.

While she was in public school, Agnes took part in a Catholic sodality, whereby showing a strong interest in the foreign missions. At 18 years old, she joined the Loreto Sisters of Dublin. She bade goodbye to her mother in 1928, and made her way to a new land and a new life. In 1929, she was sent to the Loreto novitiate in Darjeeling, India, where she chose the name Teresa and prepared for a life of service. She was assigned to a high school for girls born with silver spoon in Calcutta, where she taught history and geography. But she could not escape the realities around her—the poverty, the suffering, the overwhelming number of poverty-strickened people.

While riding a train to Darjeeling to make a retreat in 1946, Sister Teresa heard what she explained later as “a call within a call. The message was clear. I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them.” She also heard a call to give up her life with the Sisters of Loreto and instead, to “follow Christ into the slums to serve him among the poorest of the poor.”

When she received permission to leave Loreto, establish a new religious community, and undertake her new work, Sister Teresa went to a nursing School for several months. She returned to Calcutta, where she lived in the slums and convened a school for poor children. Her dress was a white sari and sandals–the normal dress of an Indian woman–she soon began getting to know her neighbours—especially the poor and the sick—and getting to know their needs by visiting them.

The work was exhausting, but she was not alone for long. Volunteers who came to join her in the work, some of them former students, became the core of the Missionaries of Charity. Others helped by donating food, clothing, supplies, and the use of buildings. In 1952, the city of Calcutta gave Mother Teresa a former hostel, which became a home for the dying and the destitute. As the order expanded, services were also offered to orphans, abandoned children, alcoholics, the aging, and street people.

For the next forty years, Mother Teresa worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor. Her love knew no bounds. Nor did her energy, as she crisscrossed the globe pleading for support and inviting others to see the face of Jesus in the poorest of the poor. In 1979, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997, in Calcutta, West Bengal India—present day Kolkata.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta was beatified on October 19, 2003 by Pope Saint John Paul II and was canonized by Pope Francis on September 4, 2016.

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