August 26, 2021, marks the 110th birth anniversary of the great saint- Mother Teresa. Also known as Saint Teresa of Calcutta, she will always be remembered for her great work and contribution to society.
The late saint was a devoted Catholic nun whose mission was to lessen the misery of the sick and the poor. Considered to be the greatest humanitarian to have ever lived in the 20th century, she was born in Skopje (now the capital of North Macedonia).
Mother Teresa, whose actual name was Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, moved to India in the late 1920s and taught history and geography for 15 long years at Calcutta’s St Mary’s High School. In 1948, she decided to leave the church and adapted a lifestyle in slums to aid the poor and needy in Kolkata.
Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty in the world. However, she refused the Nobel Honour banquet and urged the jury to contribute the prize money of USD 1,92,000 for helping the poor people of India.
Mother Teresa left her home at the age of 18 and joined Sisters of Loreto in Dublin to become a nun. She never saw her family again. She arrived in India in 1929 and began her novitiate in Darjeeling, where she learned Bengali and taught at St. Teresa’s School.
In 1931, she committed to be a nun and chose the name Teresa to honour patron saints of Australia and Spain – Saint Therese of Lisieux and Teresa of Avila, respectively. In 1946, while travelling from Calcutta to Darjeeling to participate in a retreat, she had a calling that Christ asked her to leave teaching and join the service of the sick and the poor. In 1948, she left her habit of nunhood and adopted a lifestyle in the slums to serve the needy and poor.
She laid the foundation stone of the Roman Catholic religious congregation which is now popularly known as the Missionaries of Charity. Teresa was first recognised by the Indian government in 1962 as she received the Padma Shri.
Later, she was also given other Indian awards including the Bharat Ratna (India’s highest civilian award) in 1980. On September 5, 1997, at the age of 87, Mother Teresa left for her heavenly abode.
She received a state funeral from the Indian government in gratitude for her services to the poor people of the country.