Teresa (of Calcutta), Blessed Mother

Teresa (of Calcutta), Blessed Mother
orig. Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu

born Aug. 27, 1910, Skopje, Maced., Ottoman Empire
died Sept. 5, 1997, Calcutta, India; beatified Oct. 19, 2003

Roman Catholic nun, founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity.

The daughter of a grocer, she became a nun and went to India as a young woman. After studying nursing, she moved to the slums of Calcutta (Kolkata); in 1948 she founded her order, which served the blind, the aged, the disabled, and the dying. In 1963 the Indian government awarded her the Padmashri ("Lord of the Lotus") for her services to the people of India, and in 1971 Pope Paul VI awarded her the first Pope John XXIII Peace Prize. In 1979 she received the Nobel Prize for Peace. Although in her later years she suffered from a worsening heart condition, Mother Teresa continued to serve the poor and sick and also spoke out against divorce, contraception, and abortion. Her order included hundreds of centres in more than 90 countries, with some 4,000 nuns and hundreds of thousands of lay workers. She was succeeded by the Indian-born Sister Nirmala. The process to declare her a saint began within two years of her death, and Pope John Paul II issued a special dispensation to expedite the process. She was beatified on Oct. 19, 2003, reaching the ranks of the blessed in the shortest time in the church's history.

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Universalium. 2010.

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