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Mother Teresa

Born: 6 August 1910

Died: 5 September 1997

Nationality: Albanian

Mother Teresa was the founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic congregation of women dedicated to helping the poor. Catholic nun and missionary Mother Teresa was born on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, the current capital of the Republic of Macedonia. The following day, she was baptised as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. Her parents were a devoutly Catholic family of Albanian descent.

When she was 18-year-old she decided to become a nun and set off for Ireland to join the Sisters of Loreto in Dublin. It was there that she took the name Sister Mary Teresa after Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. Teresa taught in India for 17 years dedicating herself to alleviate the girls' poverty through education. In 1937, she took her Final Profession of Vows to a life of poverty, chastity and obedience. As was the custom for Loreto nuns, she took on the title of "Mother" upon making her final vows and thus became known as Mother Teresa.

In 1946, Mother Teresa experienced a second calling, the "call within a call" that would forever transform her life. She was riding a train from Calcutta to the Himalayan foothills for a retreat when Christ spoke to her and told her to abandon teaching to work in the slums of Calcutta aiding the city's poorest and sickest people. In January 1948 she received approval from the local Archbishop Ferdinand Périer to pursue this new calling. That August, donning the blue-and-white sari that she would always wear in public for the rest of her life, she left the Loreto convent and wandered out into the city.

In 1965, Pope Paul VI bestowed the Decree of Praise upon the Missionaries of Charity, which prompted Mother Teresa to begin expanding internationally. By the time of her death in 1997, the Missionaries of Charity numbered more than 4,000—in addition to thousands of volunteers—with 610 foundations in 123 countries on all seven continents. In 1979, Mother Teresa won her highest honor when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her work "in bringing help to suffering humanity." She was beatified in October 2003.

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