|Mother Teresa (Albanian: Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (August 26, 1910 – September 5, 1997) was an Albanian Roman Catholic nun who founded the Missionaries of Charity and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her humanitarian work. For over forty years she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying in Kolkata (Calcutta), India.|
As the Missionaries of Charity grew under Mother Teresa's leadership, they expanded their ministry to other countries. By the 1970s she had become internationally famed as a humanitarian and advocate for the poor and helpless, due in part to a documentary, and book, Something Beautiful for God by Malcolm Muggeridge. Following her death she was beatified by Pope John Paul II and given the title Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.
Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu was born on 26 August 1910, in Skopje, which is now the capital of the Republic of Macedonia. She was the youngest of the children of a family from Shkodër, Albania, born to Nikola and Drane Bojaxhiu. Nikola was involved in politics and devoted to the Albanian Cause. After a political meeting he fell ill and died when Agnes was about eight years old. After her father's death, her mother raised her as a Roman Catholic. According to a biography by Joan Graff Clucas, in her early years Agnes was fascinated by stories of the lives of missionaries and their service, and by age 12 was convinced that she should commit herself to a religious life. She left home at age 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto as a missionary. She never again saw her mother or sister.
Agnes initially went to the Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham, Ireland to learn English, the language the Sisters of Loreto used to teach school children in India. She arrived in India in 1929, and began her novitiate in Darjeeling, near the Himalayan mountains. She took her first religious vows as a nun on 24 May 1931. At that time she chose the name Teresa after Thérèse de Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries. She took her solemn vows on 14 May 1937, while serving as a teacher at the Loreto convent school in eastern Calcutta.
Although Teresa enjoyed teaching at the school, she was increasingly disturbed by the poverty surrounding her in Calcutta. A famine in 1943 brought misery and death to the city; and the outbreak of Hindu/Muslim violence in August 1946 plunged the city into despair and horror.