Mother Teresa, whose original name was Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, was born on August 26, 1910 in what is now Skopje, Macedonia. She always wrote her birthday as the 27th of August because that was the day of her baptism, which was always more important to her than her birth. For her work with the poor around the world she received the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize.
In 1928 she joined a religious order and took the name Teresa. The order immediately sent her to India. A few years later, she began teaching in Calcutta, and in 1948 the Catholic Church granted her permission to leave her convent and work among the city’s poor people. She became an Indian citizen that same year. In 1950, she founded a religious order in Calcutta called the Missionaries of Charity. The order provides food for the needy and operates hospitals, schools, orphanages, youth centers, and shelters for lepers and the dying poor. It now has branches in 50 Indian cities and 30 other countries.
In addition to the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize, Mother Teresa has received other awards for her work with the needy. These awards include the 1971 Pope John XXIII Peace Prize and India’s Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding in 1972. Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997. She is sorely missed.
Mother Teresa Quotes
“I see God in every human being. When I wash the leper’s wounds, I feel I am nursing the Lord himself. Is it not a beautiful experience?” — 1974 interview.
“When I see waste here, I feel angry on the inside. I don’t approve of myself getting angry. But it’s something you can’t help after seeing Ethiopia.” — Washington 1984.
“I choose the poverty of our poor people. But I am grateful to receive (the Nobel) in the name of the hungry, the naked, the homeless, of the crippled, of the blind, of the lepers, of all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared-for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.” — Accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, 1979.
“I have never been in a war before, but I have seen famine and death. I was asking (myself), ‘What do they feel when they do this?’ I don’t understand it. They are all children of God. Why do they do it? I don’t understand.” — Beirut 1982, during fighting between the Israeli army and Palestinian guerrillas.
“Please choose the way of peace. … In the short term there may be winners and losers in this war that we all dread. But that never can, nor never will justify the suffering, pain and loss of life your weapons will cause.” — Letter to U.S. President George Bush and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, January 1991.
“Abortion is murder in the womb … A child is a gift of God. If you do not want him, give him to me.”
“God will find another person, more humble, more devoted, more obedient to him, and the society will go on.” — Calcutta 1989, after announcing her intention to retire.
“I was expecting to be free, but God has his own plans.” — Calcutta 1990, when the sisters of her order persuaded her to withdraw her resignation.
“The other day I dreamed that I was at the gates of heaven. And St. Peter said, ‘Go back to Earth. There are no slums up here.'” — Quoted as telling Prince Michael of Greece in 1996.
“I once picked up a woman from a garbage dump and she was burning with fever; she was in her last days and her only lament was: ‘My son did this to me.’ I begged her: You must forgive your son. In a moment of madness, when he was not himself, he did a thing he regrets. Be a mother to him, forgive him. It took me a long time to make her say: ‘I forgive my son.’ Just before she died in my arms, she was able to say that with a real forgiveness. She was not concerned that she was dying. The breaking of the heart was that her son did not want her. This is something you and I can understand.”
Mother Teresa Poems
1. Do It Anyway
10th anniversary of her death
On September 5, 2007, Mother Teresa’s feast day, Calcutta’s Archbishop Lucas Sirkar said Mass for thousands of devotees to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa (attended by nuns and volunteers at Mother House, the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity).