Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, was born on 26 August 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia. Her parents were of Albanian descent. Her father died when she was eight years old. Her mother was a devout woman. She opened an embroidery and cloth business to support the family. Agnes left home in September 1928,to pursue her plan to become a sister. She arrived in the Loreto Convent in Rathfarnam Dublin, where she was admitted as a postulant on October 12. She took the name Teresa, after her patroness, St. Therese of Lisieux.
Agnes was sent by the Loreto order to Calcutta arriving on 6 January 1929. She joined the novitiate in Darjeeling. She made her final profession as a Loreto nun on 24 May 1937. During the 1930s and 1940s, she taught in St. Mary's Bengali Medium School.
On 10 September 1946, on a train journey from Calcutta to Darjeeling, Mother Teresa received what she termed the "call within a call." The fruit of this call was the the new congregation of the Missionaries of Charity officially established on October 7, 1950. The aim of this new order was "to quench the infinite thirst of Jesus on the cross for love and souls" by "labouring at the salvation and sanctification of the poorest of the poor."
Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, Mother Teresa expanded the work of the Missionaries of Charity. On 1 February 1965, Pope Paul VI granted the Decree of Praise to the Congregation. In 1979 Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. By this stage there were 158 Missionaries of Charity foundations. Mother Teresa spoke at the fortieth anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly in October 1985. On Christmas Eve of that year, Mother Teresa opened the first house specifically for AIDS patients in New York.
From the late 1980s through the 1990s, despite increasing health problems, Mother Teresa travelled around the world for the profession of novices, opening of new houses, and service to the poor. New communities were founded in South Africa, Albania, Cuba, and war-torn Iraq. By 1997, there were 4,000 sisters in the order or the Missionaries of Charity, with almost 600 foundations in 123 countries of the world.
At 9:30 PM, on 5 September 1997, Mother Teresa died in Calcutta. Her body was transferred to St Thomas's Church, next to the Loreto convent where she had first arrived nearly 69 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 1997. She was beatified on 19 October 2003 by Pope John Paul II.