Born: Aug. 26th, 1910
Died: Sept. 5th, 1997
FEast: Sept. 5th
The forgotten and unloved, poverty, illness, World Youth Day
The woman who would come to be known as Mother Teresa was born in what is now Macedonia in 1910. She had always been fascinated by reading about the lives of missionaries and saints. After her father passed away (possibly due to poisoning by political enemies) when she was young, Teresa went to Ireland to join religious life and learn English to be able to become a missionary herself.
Teresa then went to India where she learned the Bengali language and taught at a school near her convent, taking her name after St. Therese when she officially joined the Order. She was then sent to Calcutta where she taught at a high school for the poorest families. She soon became the school's principal, and sincerely believed that she could alleviate the girls' poverty through their thorough education and the opportunities that would come because of it.
Teresa's life changed forever, though, on a train trip to a retreat when she believed God was calling her to a new mission - to aid the sick and dying on the streets and give up teaching. After nearly two years, she was given permission to leave her convent, and she set out into the streets, spending several months in medical training. She then founded a school, and was joined by several other women, many of them her former students, then founding a community with them. This group became known as the Missionaries of Charity once it was given Vatican approval.
Things were not easy for Teresa and the sisters. Though she had been granted Indian citizenship, Teresa's actions made her some enemies in the political realm. She and the sisters owned nothing and lived in poverty like those they served, and she began to realize how much tougher of a life it was than she could have imagined.
Soon, she opened her first hospice and made sure that the people served by it were given "beautiful deaths", no matter their faith practices. She then began establishing hospices and outreach centers for those with leprosy, as well as a home for orphaned or homeless children.
Her Missionaries soon expanded internationally, caring for those with AIDS, sufferers from addictions, victims of natural disasters, refugees, and those suffering from illnesses and disabilities. In addition to her Orders, Mother Teresa also founded organizations that were not affiliated with any faith but had similar goals and inspirations. Outside of her work in India, she also traveled to war zones to personally rescue children, assist radiation and natural disaster victims, and begin projects in communist countries, among many other things.
Teresa was awarded recognition for her efforts in several ways, one of which was winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.
After a few heart attacks, injuries, and serious illnesses, Teresa passed away at the age of 87. When her letters and journals were discovered and published in 2003, it was discovered that for about the last half of her life, Teresa had been suffering a "dark night of the soul" in which she hardly ever was able to feel her faith and yet performed all of her life's work for God anyway, making her an even more strong, incredible woman. She was canonized in 2016, almost 19 years after she passed away.
You understood human dignity so well. You, like Jesus, believed every person deserved care and respect whether or not they could pay, whoever they were, and whatever they had done. Show us where in our lives we can fight for dignity for every person through their health care.
Above all, I wanted Mother Teresa's expression to be one of kindness. She is disheartened by the conditions of those who are suffering, but still has courage, hope, and love. Her iconic striped habit is found in the pattern of her scarf, with the cross found on her earrings.