Saint Teresa of Calcutta
Mother Teresa, MC
|Consecrated religious, nun|
|Born||Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu|
26 August 1910
Üsküp, Kosovo Vilayet, Ottoman Empire
(present-day Skopje, North Macedonia)
|Died||5 September 1997 87) (aged|
Calcutta, West Bengal, India (present-day Kolkata)
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Beatified||19 October 2003, Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City by Pope John Paul II|
|Canonized||4 September 2016, Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City by Pope Francis|
|Major shrine||Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity, Kolkata, West Bengal, India|
|Nationality|| Ottoman subject (1910–1912)|
Serbian subject (1912–1915)
Bulgarian subject (1915–1918)
Yugoslavian subject (1918–1943)
Yugoslavian citizen (1943–1948)
Indian subject (1948–1950)
Indian citizen (1950–1997)
Albanian citizen (1991–1997)
United States, honorary citizenship (awarded 1996)
|Institute|| Sisters of Loreto |
Missionaries of Charity
|Period in office||1950–1997|
|Successor||Sr. Nirmala Joshi, MC|
Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu [aˈɲɛzə ˈɡɔndʒɛ bɔjaˈdʒiu] ; 26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997), commonly known as Mother Teresa and honoured in the Catholic Church as Saint Teresa of Calcutta, was an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary. She was born in Skopje (now the capital of North Macedonia), then part of the Kosovo Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire. After living in Skopje for eighteen years, she moved to Ireland and then to India, where she lived for most of her life.(born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, Albanian:
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration is the Holy See.
The Albanians are an ethnic group native to the Balkan Peninsula and are identified by a common Albanian ancestry, culture, history and language. They primarily live in Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia as well as in Croatia, Greece and Italy. They also constitute a diaspora with several communities established in the Americas, Europe and Oceania.
Indians are the nationals or citizens of India, the second most populous nation in the world, containing 17.50% of the world's population. "Indian" refers to nationality, rather than a particular ethnicity or language; the Indian nationality consists of dozens of indigenous regional ethno-linguistic groups, reflecting the rich and complex history of the country. Due to emigration, the Indian diaspora is present throughout the world, notably in other parts of Asia, North America, the Caribbean, Oceania, and Africa.
In 1950, Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation that had over 4,500 nuns and was active in 133 countries in 2012. The congregation manages homes for people who are dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis. It also runs soup kitchens, dispensaries, mobile clinics, children's and family counselling programmes, as well as orphanages and schools. Members take vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, and also profess a fourth vow—to give "wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor."
The Missionaries of Charity is a Catholic religious congregation established in 1950 by Mother Teresa, now known in the Catholic Church as Saint Teresa of Calcutta. In 2012 it consisted of over 4,500 religious sisters. Members of the order designate their affiliation using the order's initials, "M.C." A member of the congregation must adhere to the vows of chastity, poverty, obedience, and the fourth vow, to give "wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor." Today, the order consists of both contemplative and active branches in several countries.
The Latin Church, also known as the Western Church or the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest particular church sui iuris of the Catholic Church, employing the Latin liturgical rites. It is one of 24 such churches, the 23 others forming the Eastern Catholic Churches. It is headed by the bishop of Rome, the pope – traditionally also called the Patriarch of the West – with cathedra in this role at the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome, Italy. The Latin Church traces its history to the earliest days of Christianity through its direct leadership under the Holy See, founded by Peter and Paul, according to Catholic tradition.
A religious congregation is a type of religious institute in the Catholic Church. They are legally distinguished from religious orders — the other major type of religious institute — in that members take simple vows, whereas members of religious orders take solemn vows.
Teresa received a number of honours, including the 1962 Ramon Magsaysay Peace Prize and 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. She was canonised on 4 September 2016, and the anniversary of her death (5 September) is her feast day.
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Swedish industrialist, inventor, and armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel, along with the prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature. Since March 1901, it has been awarded annually to those who have "done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses".
Canonization is the act by which a Christian church declares that a person who has died was a saint, upon which declaration the person is included in the list of recognized saints, called the "canon". Originally, a person was recognized as a saint without any formal process. Later, different processes were developed, such as those used today in the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion.
A controversial figure during her life and after her death, Teresa was admired by many for her charitable work. She was praised and criticized on various counts, such as for her views on abortion and contraception, and was criticized for poor conditions in her houses for the dying. Her authorized biography was written by Navin Chawla and published in 1992, and she has been the subject of films and other books. On 6 September 2017, Teresa and St. Francis Xavier were named co-patrons of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Calcutta.
The work of Catholic nun and missionary Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, commonly known as Mother Teresa, received mixed reactions from prominent people, governments and organizations. Her practices and those of the Missionaries of Charity, the order which she founded, were subject to numerous controversies. These include objections to the quality of medical care which they provided, suggestions that some deathbed baptisms constituted forced conversion, and alleged links to colonialism and racism. Mother Teresa received extensive media coverage, and some critics suggest that the Church used her image to promote Catholicism and divert the public's attention from ecclesiastical scandals.
Navin Chawla is a retired Indian civil servant and writer, who served as 16th Chief Election Commissioner of India. Four phases of the Indian general election to Loksabha were executed under his supervision in April and May 2009.
Francis Xavier, S.J., was a Navarrese Catholic missionary who was a co-founder of the Society of Jesus.
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Teresa was born Anjezë Gonxhe (or Gonxha) [aˈɲɛzə ˈɡɔndʒɛ bɔjaˈdʒiu] ; Anjezë is a cognate of "Agnes"; Gonxhe means "rosebud" or "little flower" in Albanian) on 26 August 1910 into a Kosovar Albanian family in Skopje (now the capital of North Macedonia), Ottoman Empire. She was baptised in Skopje, the day after her birth. She later considered 27 August, the day she was baptised, her "true birthday".Bojaxhiu (Albanian:
In linguistics, cognates are words that have a common etymological origin. Cognates are often inherited from a shared parent language, but they may also involve borrowings from some other language. For example, the English words dish and desk and the German word Tisch ("table") are cognates because they all come from Latin discus, which relates to their flat surfaces. Cognates may have evolved similar, different or even opposite meanings, but in most cases there are some similar sounds or letters in the words, in some cases appearing to be dissimilar. Some words sound similar, but do not come from the same root; these are called false cognates, while some are truly cognate but differ in meaning; these are called false friends.
Albanian is an Indo-European language spoken by the Albanians in the Balkans and the Albanian diaspora in the Americas, Europe and Oceania. With about 7.5 million speakers, it comprises an independent branch within the Indo-European languages and is not closely related to any other language in Europe.
North Macedonia, officially the Republic of North Macedonia, is a country in the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in September 1991 under the name Republic of Macedonia. A landlocked country, North Macedonia has borders with Kosovo to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, and Albania to the west. It constitutes approximately the northern third of the larger geographical region of Macedonia, and is defined primarily by mountains, valleys, and rivers. The capital and largest city, Skopje, is home to roughly a quarter of the nation's 2.06 million inhabitants. The majority of the residents are ethnic Macedonians, a South Slavic people. Albanians form a significant minority at around 25%, followed by Turks, Romani, Serbs, Bosniaks, and Aromanians.
She was the youngest child of Nikollë and Dranafile Bojaxhiu (Bernai).Her father, who was involved in Albanian-community politics in Ottoman Macedonia, died in 1919 when she was eight years old. He may have been from Prizren, Kosovo, and her mother may have been from a village near Gjakova.
Nikollë Bojaxhiu was an Albanian businessman, benefactor, politician and the father of the Roman Catholic nun and missionary Mother Teresa. His company constructed the first theatre of Üsküb and participated in the development of the railway line that connected Kosovo with Skopje – a project which he personally financed.
Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. Its boundaries have changed considerably over time; however, it came to be defined as the modern geographical region by the mid 19th century. Today the region is considered to include parts of six Balkan countries: Greece, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, and Kosovo. It covers approximately 67,000 square kilometres (25,869 sq mi) and has a population of 4.76 million.
Prizren is a city and municipality located in the Prizren District of Kosovo. According to the 2011 census, the city of Prizren has 85,119 inhabitants, while the municipality has 177,781 inhabitants.
According to a biography by Joan Graff Clucas, Teresa was in her early years when she was fascinated by stories of the lives of missionaries and their service in Bengal; by age 12, she was convinced that she should commit herself to religious life.Her resolve strengthened on 15 August 1928 as she prayed at the shrine of the Black Madonna of Vitina-Letnice, where she often went on pilgrimages.
Teresa left home in 1928 at age 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto at Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham, Ireland, to learn English with the view of becoming a missionary; English was the language of instruction of the Sisters of Loreto in India.She never saw her mother or her sister again. Her family lived in Skopje until 1934, when they moved to Tirana.
She arrived in India in 1929and began her novitiate in Darjeeling, in the lower Himalayas, where she learned Bengali and taught at St. Teresa's School near her convent. Teresa took her first religious vows on 24 May 1931. She chose to be named after Thérèse de Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries; because a nun in the convent had already chosen that name, Agnes opted for its Spanish spelling (Teresa).
Teresa took her solemn vows on 14 May 1937 while she was a teacher at the Loreto convent school in Entally, eastern Calcutta.She served there for nearly twenty years and was appointed its headmistress in 1944. Although Teresa enjoyed teaching at the school, she was increasingly disturbed by the poverty surrounding her in Calcutta. The Bengal famine of 1943 brought misery and death to the city, and the August 1946 Direct Action Day began a period of Muslim-Hindu violence.
On 10 September 1946, Teresa experienced what she later described as "the call within the call" when she travelled by train to the Loreto convent in Darjeeling from Calcutta for her annual retreat. "I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them. It was an order. To fail would have been to break the faith."Joseph Langford later wrote, "Though no one knew it at the time, Sister Teresa had just become Mother Teresa".
She began missionary work with the poor in 1948,replacing her traditional Loreto habit with a simple, white cotton sari with a blue border. Teresa adopted Indian citizenship, spent several months in Patna to receive basic medical training at Holy Family Hospital and ventured into the slums. She founded a school in Motijhil, Kolkata, before she began tending to the poor and hungry. At the beginning of 1949 Teresa was joined in her effort by a group of young women, and she laid the foundation for a new religious community helping the "poorest among the poor".
Her efforts quickly caught the attention of Indian officials, including the prime minister.Teresa wrote in her diary that her first year was fraught with difficulty. With no income, she begged for food and supplies and experienced doubt, loneliness and the temptation to return to the comfort of convent life during these early months:
Our Lord wants me to be a free nun covered with the poverty of the cross. Today, I learned a good lesson. The poverty of the poor must be so hard for them. While looking for a home I walked and walked till my arms and legs ached. I thought how much they must ache in body and soul, looking for a home, food and health. Then, the comfort of Loreto [her former congregation] came to tempt me. "You have only to say the word and all that will be yours again", the Tempter kept on saying ... Of free choice, my God, and out of love for you, I desire to remain and do whatever be your Holy will in my regard. I did not let a single tear come.
On 7 October 1950, Teresa received Vatican permission for the diocesan congregation, which would become the Missionaries of Charity.In her words, it would care for "the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, 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". By 1997 the 13-member Calcutta congregation had grown to more than 4,000 sisters who managed orphanages, AIDS hospices and charity centres worldwide, caring for refugees, the blind, disabled, aged, alcoholics, the poor and homeless and victims of floods, epidemics and famine.
In 1952, Teresa opened her first hospice with help from Calcutta officials. She converted an abandoned Hindu temple into the Kalighat Home for the Dying, free for the poor, and renamed it Kalighat, the Home of the Pure Heart (Nirmal Hriday).Those brought to the home received medical attention and the opportunity to die with dignity in accordance with their faith: Muslims were read the Quran, Hindus received water from the Ganges, and Catholics received extreme unction. "A beautiful death", Teresa said, "is for people who lived like animals to die like angels—loved and wanted."
She opened a hospice for those with leprosy, calling it Shanti Nagar (City of Peace).The Missionaries of Charity established leprosy-outreach clinics throughout Calcutta, providing medication, dressings and food. The Missionaries of Charity took in an increasing number of homeless children; in 1955 Teresa opened Nirmala Shishu Bhavan, the Children's Home of the Immaculate Heart, as a haven for orphans and homeless youth.
The congregation began to attract recruits and donations, and by the 1960s it had opened hospices, orphanages and leper houses throughout India. Teresa then expanded the congregation abroad, opening a house in Venezuela in 1965 with five sisters.Houses followed in Italy (Rome), Tanzania and Austria in 1968, and during the 1970s the congregation opened houses and foundations in the United States and dozens of countries in Asia, Africa and Europe.
The Missionaries of Charity Brothers was founded in 1963, and a contemplative branch of the Sisters followed in 1976. Lay Catholics and non-Catholics were enrolled in the Co-Workers of Mother Teresa, the Sick and Suffering Co-Workers, and the Lay Missionaries of Charity. Responding to requests by many priests, in 1981 Mother Teresa founded the Corpus Christi Movement for Priestsand (with priest Joseph Langford) the Missionaries of Charity Fathers in 1984 to combine the vocational aims of the Missionaries of Charity with the resources of the priesthood. By 2007 the Missionaries of Charity numbered about 450 brothers and 5,000 sisters worldwide, operating 600 missions, schools and shelters in 120 countries.
Teresa said, "By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus."Fluent in five languages – Bengali, Albanian, Serbian, English and Hindi – she made occasional trips outside India for humanitarian reasons.
At the height of the Siege of Beirut in 1982, Teresa rescued 37 children trapped in a front-line hospital by brokering a temporary cease-fire between the Israeli army and Palestinian guerrillas.Accompanied by Red Cross workers, she travelled through the war zone to the hospital to evacuate the young patients.
When Eastern Europe experienced increased openness in the late 1980s, Teresa expanded her efforts to Communist countries which had rejected the Missionaries of Charity. She began dozens of projects, undeterred by criticism of her stands against abortion and divorce: "No matter who says what, you should accept it with a smile and do your own work." She visited Armenia after the 1988 earthquakeand met with Nikolai Ryzhkov, Chairman of the Council of Ministers.
Teresa travelled to assist the hungry in Ethiopia, radiation victims at Chernobyl and earthquake victims in Armenia.In 1991 she returned to Albania for the first time, opening a Missionaries of Charity Brothers home in Tirana.
By 1996, Teresa operated 517 missions in over 100 countries.Her Missionaries of Charity grew from twelve to thousands, serving the "poorest of the poor" in 450 centres worldwide. The first Missionaries of Charity home in the United States was established in the South Bronx area of New York City, and by 1984 the congregation operated 19 establishments throughout the country.
Teresa had a heart attack in Rome in 1983 while she was visiting Pope John Paul II. Following a second attack in 1989, she received an artificial pacemaker. In 1991, after a bout of pneumonia in Mexico, she had additional heart problems. Although Teresa offered to resign as head of the Missionaries of Charity, in a secret ballot the sisters of the congregation voted for her to stay and she agreed to continue.
In April 1996 she fell, breaking her collarbone, and four months later she had malaria and heart failure. Although Teresa had heart surgery, her health was clearly declining. According to Archbishop of Calcutta Henry Sebastian D'Souza, he ordered a priest to perform an exorcism (with her permission) when she was first hospitalised with cardiac problems because he thought she might be under attack by the devil.
On 13 March 1997 Teresa resigned as head of the Missionaries of Charity, and she died on 5 September.At the time of her death, the Missionaries of Charity had over 4,000 sisters and an associated brotherhood of 300 members operating 610 missions in 123 countries. These included hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, soup kitchens, children's- and family-counselling programmes, orphanages and schools. The Missionaries of Charity were aided by co-workers numbering over one million by the 1990s.
Teresa lay in repose in an open casket in St Thomas, Calcutta, for a week before her funeral. She received a state funeral from the Indian government in gratitude for her service to the poor of all religions in the country.Assisted by five priests, Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, the Pope's representative, performed the last rites. Teresa's death was mourned in the secular and religious communities. Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif called her "a rare and unique individual who lived long for higher purposes. Her life-long devotion to the care of the poor, the sick, and the disadvantaged was one of the highest examples of service to our humanity." According to former U.N. Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, "She is the United Nations. She is peace in the world."
Teresa was first recognised by the Indian government more than a third of a century earlier, receiving the Padma Shri in 1962 and the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding in 1969.She later received other Indian awards, including the Bharat Ratna (India's highest civilian award) in 1980. Teresa's official biography, by Navin Chawla, was published in 1992. In Kolkata, she is worshipped as a deity by some Hindus.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of her birth, the government of India issued a special ₹5 coin (the amount of money Teresa had when she arrived in India) on 28 August 2010. President Pratibha Patil said, "Clad in a white sari with a blue border, she and the sisters of Missionaries of Charity became a symbol of hope to many – the aged, the destitute, the unemployed, the diseased, the terminally ill, and those abandoned by their families."
Indian views of Teresa are not uniformly favourable. Aroup Chatterjee, a physician born and raised in Calcutta who was an activist in the city's slums for years around 1980 before moving to the UK, said that he "never even saw any nuns in those slums".His research, involving more than 100 interviews with volunteers, nuns and others familiar with the Missionaries of Charity, was described in a 2003 book critical of Teresa. Chatterjee criticized her for promoting a "cult of suffering" and a distorted, negative image of Calcutta, exaggerating work done by her mission and misusing funds and privileges at her disposal. According to him, some of the hygiene problems he had criticized (needle reuse, for example) improved after Teresa's death in 1997.
Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, mayor of Kolkata from 2005 to 2010, said that "she had no significant impact on the poor of this city", glorified illness instead of treating it and misrepresented the city: "No doubt there was poverty in Calcutta, but it was never a city of lepers and beggars, as Mother Teresa presented it."On the Hindu right, the Bharatiya Janata Party clashed with Teresa over the Christian Dalits but praised her in death and sent a representative to her funeral. Vishwa Hindu Parishad, however, opposed the government decision to grant her a state funeral. Secretary Giriraj Kishore said that "her first duty was to the Church and social service was incidental", accusing her of favouring Christians and conducting "secret baptisms" of the dying. In a front-page tribute, the Indian fortnightly Frontline dismissed the charges as "patently false" and said that they had "made no impact on the public perception of her work, especially in Calcutta". Praising her "selfless caring", energy and bravery, the author of the tribute criticised Teresa's public campaign against abortion and her claim to be non-political.
In February 2015 Mohan Bhagwat, leader of the Hindu right-wing organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, said that Teresa's objective was "to convert the person, who was being served, into a Christian".Former RSS spokesperson M. G. Vaidhya supported Bhagwat's assessment, and the organisation accused the media of "distorting facts about Bhagwat's remarks". Trinamool Congress MP Derek O'Brien, CPI leader Atul Anjan and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal protested Bhagwat's statement.
Teresa received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding, given for work in South or East Asia, in 1962. According to its citation, "The Board of Trustees recognises her merciful cognisance of the abject poor of a foreign land, in whose service she has led a new congregation".By the early 1970s, she was an international celebrity. Teresa's fame may be partially attributed to Malcolm Muggeridge's 1969 documentary, Something Beautiful for God, and his 1971 book of the same name. Muggeridge was undergoing a spiritual journey of his own at the time. During filming, footage shot in poor lighting (particularly at the Home for the Dying) was thought unlikely to be usable by the crew. In England, the footage was found to be extremely well-lit and Muggeridge called it a miracle of "divine light" from Teresa. Other crew members said that it was due to a new type of ultra-sensitive Kodak film. Muggeridge later converted to Catholicism.
Around this time, the Catholic world began to honour Teresa publicly. Pope Paul VI gave her the inaugural Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971, commending her work with the poor, display of Christian charity and efforts for peace,and she received the Pacem in Terris Award in 1976. After her death, Teresa progressed rapidly on the road to sainthood.
She was honoured by governments and civilian organisations, and appointed an honorary Companion of the Order of Australia in 1982 "for service to the community of Australia and humanity at large".The United Kingdom and the United States bestowed a number of awards, culminating in the Order of Merit in 1983 and honorary citizenship of the United States on 16 November 1996. Teresa's Albanian homeland gave her the Golden Honour of the Nation in 1994, but her acceptance of this and the Haitian Legion of Honour was controversial. Teresa was criticised for implicitly supporting the Duvaliers and corrupt businessmen such as Charles Keating and Robert Maxwell; she wrote to the judge of Keating's trial, requesting clemency.
Universities in India and the West granted her honorary degrees.Other civilian awards included the Balzan Prize for promoting humanity, peace and brotherhood among peoples (1978) and the Albert Schweitzer International Prize (1975). In April 1976 Teresa visited the University of Scranton in northeastern Pennsylvania, where she received the La Storta Medal for Human Service from university president William J. Byron. She challenged an audience of 4,500 to "know poor people in your own home and local neighbourhood", feeding others or simply spreading joy and love, and continued: "The poor will help us grow in sanctity, for they are Christ in the guise of distress". In August 1987 Teresa received an honorary doctor of social science degree, in recognition of her service and her ministry to help the destitute and sick, from the university. She spoke to over 4,000 students and members of the Diocese of Scranton about her service to the "poorest of the poor", telling them to "do small things with great love".
In 1979, Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize "for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitutes a threat to peace". [ sic ] and so much, and I find that very difficult." Teresa singled out abortion as "the greatest destroyer of peace today. Because if a mother can kill her own child—what is left for me to kill you and you kill me—there is nothing between."She refused the conventional ceremonial banquet for laureates, asking that its $192,000 cost be given to the poor in India and saying that earthly rewards were important only if they helped her to help the world's needy. When Teresa received the prize she was asked, "What can we do to promote world peace?" She answered, "Go home and love your family." Building on this theme in her Nobel lecture, she said: "Around the world, not only in the poor countries, but I found the poverty of the West so much more difficult to remove. When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread, I have satisfied. I have removed that hunger. But a person that is shut out, that feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person that has been thrown out from society—that poverty is so hurtable
Barbara Smoker of the secular humanist magazine The Freethinker criticised Teresa after the Peace Prize award, saying that her promotion of Catholic moral teachings on abortion and contraception diverted funds from effective methods to solve India's problems.At the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, Teresa said: "Yet we can destroy this gift of motherhood, especially by the evil of abortion, but also by thinking that other things like jobs or positions are more important than loving."
During her lifetime, Teresa was among the top 10 women in the annual Gallup's most admired man and woman poll 18 times, finishing first several times in the 1980s and 1990s.In 1999 she headed Gallup's List of Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century, out-polling all other volunteered answers by a wide margin, and was first in all major demographic categories except the very young.
According to a paper by Canadian academics Serge Larivée, Geneviève Chénard and Carole Sénéchal, Teresa's clinics received millions of dollars in donations but lacked medical care, systematic diagnosis, necessary nutrition and sufficient analgesics for those in pain;in the opinion of the three academics, "Mother Teresa believed the sick must suffer like Christ on the cross". It was said that the additional money might have transformed the health of the city's poor by creating advanced palliative care facilities.
One of Teresa's most outspoken critics was English journalist, literary critic and antitheist Christopher Hitchens, host of the documentary Hell's Angel (1994) and author of the essay The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice (1995) who wrote in a 2003 article: "This returns us to the medieval corruption of the church, which sold indulgences to the rich while preaching hellfire and continence to the poor. [Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction." '" Although Hitchens thought he was the only witness called by the Vatican, Aroup Chatterjee (author of Mother Teresa: The Untold Story) was also called to present evidence opposing Teresa's beatification and canonisation; the Vatican had abolished the traditional "devil's advocate", which served a similar purpose.He accused her of hypocrisy for choosing advanced treatment for her heart condition. Hitchens said that "her intention was not to help people", and that she lied to donors about how their contributions were used. "It was by talking to her that I discovered, and she assured me, that she wasn't working to alleviate poverty", he said, "She was working to expand the number of Catholics. She said, 'I'm not a social worker. I don't do it for this reason. I do it for Christ. I do it for the church.
Abortion-rights groups have also criticised Teresa's stance against abortion and contraception.
Analysing her deeds and achievements, Pope John Paul II said: "Where did Mother Teresa find the strength and perseverance to place herself completely at the service of others? She found it in prayer and in the silent contemplation of Jesus Christ, his Holy Face, his Sacred Heart." ... in her heart or in the eucharist". Teresa expressed grave doubts about God's existence and pain over her lack of faith:Privately, Teresa experienced doubts and struggle in her religious beliefs which lasted nearly 50 years (until the end of her life); according to her postulator, Brian Kolodiejchuk, "She felt no presence of God whatsoever
Where is my faith? Even deep down ... there is nothing but emptiness and darkness ... If there be God—please forgive me. When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul.
Kolodiejchuk (the official responsible for gathering evidence for her canonisation) thought that her unhappiness might be misinterpreted by some, but her faith that God was working through her was undiminished; although she pined for lost closeness to God, she did not question his existence.Teresa may have experienced something similar to Jesus, who said when he was crucified: "Eli Eli lama sabachthani?" ("My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?") Kolodiejchuk drew a comparison with the 16th-century mystic John of the Cross, who coined the phrase "Dark Night of the Soul". Other saints (including Teresa's namesake Thérèse of Lisieux, who called it a "night of nothingness") had similar experiences of spiritual dryness. According to James Langford, these doubts were typical and would not be an impediment to canonisation.
After ten years of doubt, Teresa described a brief period of renewed faith. After Pope Pius XII's death in 1958, she was praying for him at a requiem mass when she was relieved of "the long darkness: that strange suffering." However, five weeks later her spiritual dryness returned.
Teresa wrote many letters to her confessors and superiors over a 66-year period, most notably to Calcutta Archbishop Ferdinand Perier and Jesuit priest Celeste van Exem (her spiritual advisor since the formation of the Missionaries of Charity).She requested that her letters be destroyed, concerned that "people will think more of me—less of Jesus."
However, the correspondence has been compiled in Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light. ... I want you to pray for me—that I let Him have [a] free hand."Teresa wrote to spiritual confidant Michael van der Peet, "Jesus has a very special love for you. [But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see—listen and do not hear—the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak
In Deus caritas est (his first encyclical), Pope Benedict XVI mentioned Teresa three times and used her life to clarify one of the encyclical's main points: "In the example of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta we have a clear illustration of the fact that time devoted to God in prayer not only does not detract from effective and loving service to our neighbour but is in fact the inexhaustible source of that service."She wrote, "It is only by mental prayer and spiritual reading that we can cultivate the gift of prayer."
Although her order was not connected with the Franciscan orders, Teresa admired Francis of Assisiand was influenced by Franciscan spirituality. The Sisters of Charity recite the prayer of Saint Francis every morning at mass during the thanksgiving after Communion, and their emphasis on ministry and many of their vows are similar. Francis emphasised poverty, chastity, obedience and submission to Christ. He devoted much of his life to serving the poor, particularly lepers.
After Teresa's death in 1997, the Holy See began the process of beatification (the second of three steps towards canonisation) and Kolodiejchuk was appointed postulator by the Diocese of Calcutta. Although he said, "We didn't have to prove that she was perfect or never made a mistake ...", he had to prove that Teresa's virtue was heroic. Kolodiejchuk submitted 76 documents, totalling 35,000 pages, which were based on interviews with 113 witnesses who were asked to answer 263 questions.
The process of canonisation requires the documentation of a miracle resulting from the intercession of the prospective saint. ... She took medicines for nine months to one year." According to Besra's husband, "My wife was cured by the doctors and not by any miracle ... This miracle is a hoax." Besra said that her medical records, including sonograms, prescriptions and physicians' notes, were confiscated by Sister Betta of the Missionaries of Charity. According to Time , calls to Sister Betta and the office of Sister Nirmala (Teresa's successor as head of the order) elicited no comment. Officials at Balurghat Hospital, where Besra sought medical treatment, said that they were pressured by the order to call her cure miraculous. In February 2000, former West Bengal health minister Partho De ordered a review of Besra's medical records at the Department of Health in Kolkata. According to De, there was nothing unusual about her illness and cure based on her lengthy treatment. He said that he had refused to give the Vatican the name of a doctor who would certify that Monica Besra's healing was a miracle.In 2002 the Vatican recognised as a miracle the healing of a tumour in the abdomen of Monica Besra, an Indian woman, after the application of a locket containing Teresa's picture. According to Besra, a beam of light emanated from the picture and her cancerous tumour was cured; however, her husband and some of her medical staff said that conventional medical treatment eradicated the tumour. Dr. Ranjan Mustafi, who told the New York Times he had treated Besra, said that the cyst was caused by tuberculosis: "It was not a miracle
During Teresa's beatification and canonisation, the Roman Curia (the Vatican) studied published and unpublished criticism of her life and work. Hitchens and Chatterjee (author of The Final Verdict, a book critical of Teresa) spoke to the tribunal; according to Vatican officials, the allegations raised were investigated by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.The group found no obstacle to Teresa's canonisation, and issued its nihil obstat on 21 April 1999. Because of the attacks on her, some Catholic writers called her a sign of contradiction. A separate medical committee ruled that the miracle of Monica Besra, one of three considered by Kolodiejchuk, was evidence of divine intercession. Teresa was beatified on 19 October 2003, and was known by Catholics as "Blessed".
On 17 December 2015, the Vatican Press Office confirmed that Pope Francis recognised a second miracle attributed to Teresa: the healing of a Brazilian man with multiple brain tumours back in 2008.The miracle first came to the attention of the postulation (officials managing the cause) during the events of World Youth Day 2013 when the pope was in Brazil that July. A subsequent investigation took place in Brazil from 19–26 June 2015 which was later transferred to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints who issued a decree recognizing the investigation to be completed.
Francis canonised her at a ceremony on 4 September 2016 in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. Tens of thousands of people witnessed the ceremony, including 15 government delegations and 1,500 homeless people from across Italy.It was televised live on the Vatican channel and streamed online; Skopje, Teresa's hometown, announced a week-long celebration of her canonisation. In India, a special mass was celebrated by the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata.
On 4 September 2017, during a celebration honoring the 1st anniversary of her canonization, Sister Mary Prema Pierick, Superior-General of the Missionaries of Charity, announced that Archbishop Teresa would be made the co-patron of the Calcutta Archdiocese during a Holy Mass in the Cathedral of the Most Holy Rosary at 5.30 pm on 6 September 2017.On 5 September 2017, Archbishop Thomas D'Souza, who serves as head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Calcutta, confirmed that Teresa will be named co-patron of the Calcutta Diocese, alongside Francis Xavier. On 6 September 2017, about 500 people attended the Mass at a cathedral where Dominique Gomes, the local Vicar General, read the decree instituting her as the second patron saint of the archdiocese. The ceremony was also presided over by D'Souza and the Vatican's ambassador to India, Giambattista Diquattro, who lead the Mass and inaugurated a bronze statue in the church of Mother Teresa carrying a child.
The Roman Catholic Church declared St. Francis Xavier the first patron saint of Calcutta in 1986.
Teresa has been commemorated by museums and named the patroness of a number of churches. She has had buildings, roads and complexes named after her, including Albania's international airport. Mother Teresa Day (Dita e Nënë Terezës), 19 October, is a public holiday in Albania. In 2009 the Memorial House of Mother Teresa was opened in her hometown of Skopje, North Macedonia. The Roman Catholic cathedral in Pristina, Kosovo, is named in her honour.Its construction, begun in 2011, sparked controversy in Muslim circles who saw it as oversized relative to the number of Catholics in the area. An initiative to erect a monument to Teresa in the town of Peć (according to activists, 98 percent Muslim) was opposed by Kosovo Muslims.
Mother Teresa Women's University,in Kodaikanal, was established in 1984 as a public university by the government of Tamil Nadu. The Mother Theresa Postgraduate and Research Institute of Health Sciences, in Pondicherry, was established in 1999 by the government of Puducherry. The charitable organisation Sevalaya runs the Mother Teresa Girls Home, providing poor and orphaned girls near the underserved village of Kasuva in Tamil Nadu with free food, clothing, shelter and education. A number of tributes by Teresa's biographer, Navin Chawla, have appeared in Indian newspapers and magazines. Indian Railways introduced the "Mother Express", a new train named after Mother Teresa, on 26 August 2010 to commemorate the centenary of her birth. The Tamil Nadu government organised centenary celebrations honouring Teresa on 4 December 2010 in Chennai, headed by chief minister M Karunanidhi. Beginning on 5 September 2013, the anniversary of her death has been designated the International Day of Charity by the United Nations General Assembly.
In 2012, Teresa was ranked number 5 in Outlook India's poll of the Greatest Indian.
On 5 September 2017, St. Teresa Cathedral, the first Roman Catholic cathedral named in Teresa's honor, was consecrated in Kosovo.The Cathedral is also Kosovo's first Roman Catholic cathedral as well.
The advocatus diaboli is a former official position within the Catholic Church, the Promoter of the Faith: one who "argued against the canonization (sainthood) of a candidate in order to uncover any character flaws or misrepresentation of the evidence favoring canonization".
The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice is an essay by the British-American journalist and polemicist Christopher Hitchens published in 1995.
Hell's Angel is a television documentary programme criticising Mother Teresa which premiered in the UK on Channel 4's Without Walls arts strand on 8 November 1994. It was hosted by Christopher Hitchens, directed by Jenny Morgan, and produced by journalist Tariq Ali. Hitchens and Ali co-wrote the programme's script. Hitchens originally titled the documentary Sacred Cow, but the film's backers instead chose Hell's Angel as the title.
Aroup Chatterjee is a British Indian author and physician. He was born in Calcutta, and moved to the United Kingdom in 1985. He is the author of the book Mother Teresa: The Untold Story, a work which challenges the widespread regard of Mother Teresa as a symbol of philanthropy and selflessness.
Kalighat, the Home of the Pure Heart is a hospice for the sick, destitute and the dying established by St. Mother Teresa in Kalighat, Kolkata, India. Before Mother Teresa sought permission to use it, the building was an old abandoned Hindu temple to the goddess Kali, the Hindu goddess of time and change. It was founded by St. Mother Teresa on her 42nd birthday in 1952, two years after she established Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata.
Maria Nirmala Joshi, M.C., better known as Sister Nirmala, was a Catholic Religious Sister who succeeded Nobel laureate Mother Teresa as the head of her Missionaries of Charity and expanded the movement overseas. After taking over the charity following Mother Teresa’s death in 1997, Nirmala expanded the organisation’s reach to 134 countries by opening centres in nations such as Afghanistan, Israel and Thailand.
Mother Teresa of Kolkata has been memorialized throughout the world in recognition of her work with the poor. During her lifetime this commemoration often took the form of awards and honorary degrees bestowed upon her. She has also been memorialized through museums and dedications of churches, roads and other structures.
St. Mother Teresa Catholic Academy ; also known as by its former names Blessed Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School before 2016 and Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School in its inception is a Catholic secondary school in the Malvern neighbourhood of Scarborough, a municipality of Toronto, Ontario.
Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC, Ph.D. is the postulator of the Cause of Beatification and Canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and director of the Mother Teresa Center. He edited and wrote the commentary for the book Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, published by Doubleday, on September 4, 2007.
The Cathedral of Saint Mother Teresa in Pristina is a Roman Catholic cathedral being constructed in Pristina, Kosovo. In 2007, the Government of Kosovo approved plans for the building. The cathedral is dedicated to the Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary, Saint Teresa of Calcutta.
Sister Mary Prema Pierick, M.C., is the current Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity of Calcutta, India, the religious institute founded by the Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
In the history of the Catholic Church, women in have played a variety of roles and the church has affected societal attitudes to women throughout the world in significant ways. Women constitute the majority of members of consecrated life within the Catholic Church: in 2010, there were around 721,935 professed women religious.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta is a 2003 biographical television film based on the life of Mother Teresa, the founder of the Missionaries of Charity religious institute. The film stars Olivia Hussey in the title role and received a CAMIE award in 2007. The film was originally produced as the Italian television miniseries Madre Teresa.
The Sacred Heart Church is a Roman Catholic church in Tirana, Albania. Built in 1939 during the Italian invasion of Albania, it is the oldest Catholic church in the city.
Mother Teresa: Saint or Celebrity? is a 2007 non-fiction book written by Gëzim Alpion about Mother Teresa.
Something Beautiful for God is a 1971 book by Malcolm Muggeridge on Mother Teresa. The book was based on a 1969 documentary on Mother Teresa that Muggeridge had undertaken.
When asked about her personal history, Mother Teresa said: 'By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.'
Remember, brother, I am a missionary and so are you.
Mother Teresa, Albanian by birth
the nun's mother was born in Prizren in Kosova, her family came originally from the Gjakova region, also in Kosova
Hendes forældre var indvandret fra Shkodra i Albanien; muligvis stammede faderen fra Prizren, moderen fra en landsby i nærheden af Gjakova.
[Mother Teresa] came to India in 1929 ... she founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1948.
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Mother Teresa broke almost all the rules of good speech writing during her National Prayer Breakfast address in 1994, but delivered an enormously powerful and deeply memorable speech.
Jesus has a very special love for you. [But] as for me —The silence and the emptiness is so great —that I look and do not see, —Listen and do not hear.
By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.
|Catholic Church titles|
|New creation|| Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity |
Sister Nirmala Joshi, M.C.
| Ramon Magsaysay Award |
|New award|| Templeton Prize |
Anwar El Sadat, Menachem Begin
| Nobel Peace Prize |
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel
| Bharat Ratna |