Mother Teresa, born in Skopje on 26 August 1910, was a beacon of love and faith. Despite her small stature, she was unwavering in her mission to declare God’s immense love for humanity, particularly the extremely impoverished. “God still loves the world and sends us to be His love and compassion for the poor,” she proclaimed.
Born as Gonxha Agnes to parents Nikola and Drane Bojaxhiu, her journey of faith began early. She received her First Communion at five and was confirmed in 1916. After her father’s untimely death, her mother Drane became a significant influence in molding Gonxha’s faith and character. By eighteen, driven by missionary aspirations, she joined the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland. Upon arriving in India in 1929, she adopted the name Sister Mary Teresa. By 1937, she was known as Mother Teresa.
In 1946, a divine “inspiration” changed her life. During a train journey, she felt a deep urge to quench Jesus’ thirst for love and serve the poorest. This led to the formation of the religious community, the Missionaries of Charity, in 1950, which dedicated itself to serving the destitute.
Her dedication was relentless. She expanded her congregation globally, even into communist territories. Her initiatives weren’t confined to religious vocations. She introduced several branches and movements to involve laity, priests, and others.
Mother Teresa’s work did not go unnoticed. Accolades like the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and the Indian Padmashri Award in 1962 were testimonies to her monumental impact. However, her internal spiritual journey remained largely hidden, marked by a profound sense of separation from God, which she termed “the darkness.” Yet, this spiritual desolation only intensified her union with Him.
Despite health challenges, she tirelessly served until her death on 5 September 1997. Recognizing her unparalleled service, she received a state funeral in India.
Traditionally, the process for sainthood starts five years posthumously. But due to Mother Teresa’s unparalleled influence, Pope John Paul II permitted the inquiry to begin earlier. Even then, the stringent requirements were maintained. Her beatification, announced in 2002, was notably rapid and was celebrated in 2003.
Mother Teresa once 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.” Her life and service remain a testament to these words.