Mother Teresa, in full St. Teresa of Calcutta, original name Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic congregation of women dedicated to the poor, particularly to the destitute of India. She was the recipient of numerous honours, including the 1979 Nobel Prize for Peace. The daughter of an ethnic Albanian grocer, she went to Ireland in 1928 to join the Sisters of Loreto at the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary and sailed only six weeks later to India as a teacher. She taught for 17 years at the order’s school in Calcutta (Kolkata). In 1946 Sister Teresa experienced her “call within a call,” which she considered divine inspiration to devote herself to caring for the sick and poor. Mother Teresa adopted Indian citizenship. In 1952 she established Nirmal Hriday (“Place for the Pure of Heart”), a hospice where the terminally ill could die with dignity. Her order also opened numerous centers serving the blind, the aged, and the disabled. Under Mother Teresa’s guidance, the Missionaries of Charity built a leper colony, called Shanti Nagar (“Town of Peace”), near Asansol, India. In 1962 the Indian government awarded Mother Teresa the Padma Shri, one of its highest civilian honours, for her services to the people of India. In 1979 she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her humanitarian work, and the following year the Indian government conferred on her the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honour. A worsening heart condition forced her retirement. At the time of Mother Teresa’s death, her order included hundreds of centers in more than 90 countries with some 4,000 nuns and hundreds of thousands of lay workers. Within two years of her death, the process to declare her a saint was begun, and Pope John Paul II issued a special dispensation to expedite the process of canonization. She was canonized by Pope Francis I on September 4, 2016. Although Mother Teresa displayed cheerfulness and a deep commitment to God in her daily work, her letters (which were collected and published in 2007) indicate that she did not feel God’s presence in her soul during the last 50 years of her life. The letters reveal the suffering she endured and her feeling that Jesus had abandoned her at the start of her mission. Continuing to experience a spiritual darkness, she came to believe that she was sharing in Christ’s Passion, particularly the moment in which Christ asks, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Despite this hardship, Mother Teresa integrated the feeling of absence into her daily religious life and remained committed to her faith and her work for Christ.
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, you allowed the thirsting love of Jesus on the Cross to become a living flame within you, and so became the light of His love to all. Obtain from the Heart of Jesus (here make your request). Teach me to allow Jesus to penetrate and possess my whole being so completely that my life, too, may radiate His light and love to others. Amen.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, Cause of Our Joy, pray for me.
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, pray for me.