The Life of Mother Teresa

Timeline created by StefanieLePine
In History
  • Teresa is born

    Teresa is born
    Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (Mother Teresa) 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.
  • Teresa's father Dies

    Teresa's father Dies
    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.
  • Teresa wants a Religious Life

    Teresa wants a Religious Life
    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.
  • Joins the Loretta Sisters

    Joins the Loretta Sisters
    She left home at age 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto as a missionary. She never again saw her mother or sister. The Loreto Sisters belong to one branch of the Institute of the Congregatio Jesu, eralier called the Blessed Virgin Mary (IBVM), the religious order founded by an Englishwoman from a recusant background, Mary Ward, in 1609. 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.
  • Teresa Reaches India

    Teresa Reaches India
  • Agnes Turns to Teresa

    Agnes Turns to Teresa
    Agnes 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.
  • The Call Within The call

    The Call Within The call
    On September 10, 1946, Teresa experienced what she later described as "the call within the call" while traveling to the Loreto convent in Darjeeling for her annual retreat. "I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them. It was an order. To fail would have been to break the faith."
  • Missionary Work

    Missionary Work
    She began her missionary work with the poor in 1948, replacing her traditional Loreto habit with a simple white cotton chira decorated with a blue border and then venturing out into the slums." Initially she started a school in Motijhil; soon she started tending to the needs of the destitute and starving. Her efforts quickly caught the attention of Indian officials, including the Prime Minister, who expressed his appreciation. Teresa wrote in her diary that her first year was fraught with diffi
  • Teresa Begins Servig the Destitute

    Teresa Begins Servig the Destitute
    Teresa received Vatican permission on October 7, 1950 to start the diocesan congregation that would become the Missionaries of Charity. Its mission was to care for, in her own words, "the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone." It began as a small order with 13 members in Calcutta; today it has more than 4,000 nun
  • Home for the Dying

    Home for the Dying
    In 1952 Mother Teresa opened the first Home for the Dying in space made available by the City of Calcutta. With the help of Indian officials she converted an abandoned Hindu temple into the Kalighat Home for the Dying, a free hospice for the poor. She renamed it Kalighat, the Home of the Pure Heart (Nirmal Hriday). Those brought to the home received medical attention and were afforded the opportunity to die with dignity, according to the rituals of their faith; Muslims were read the Quran, Hind
  • Children's Home of Immaculate Heart

    Children's Home of Immaculate Heart
    Mother Teresa soon opened a home for those suffering from Hansen's disease, commonly known as leprosy, and called the hospice Shanti Nagar (City of Peace). The Missionaries of Charity also established several leprosy outreach clinics throughout Calcutta, providing medication, bandages and food. As the Missionaries of Charity took in increasing numbers of lost children, Mother Teresa felt the need to create a home for them. In 1955 she opened the Nirmala Shishu Bhavan, the Children's Home of the
  • Magsaysay Award for International Understanding

    In 1962 Teresa received the Philippines-based Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding, given for work in South or East Asia. The citation said that "the Board of Trustees recognizes her merciful cognizance of the abject poor of a foreign land, in whose service she has led a new congregation".
  • First Home Outside of India

    The order soon began to attract both recruits and charitable donations, and by the 1960s had opened hospices, orphanages, and leper houses all over India. Mother Teresa then expanded the order throughout the globe. Its first house outside India opened in Venezuela in 1965 with five sisters. Others followed in Rome, Tanzania, and Austria in 1968; during the 1970s the order opened houses and foundations in dozens of countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the United States. Her philosophy and impl
  • Something beautiful for God- documentary

    By the early 1970s, Mother Teresa had become an international celebrity. Her fame can be in large part attributed to the 1969 documentary Something Beautiful for God, which was filmed by Malcolm Muggeridge and his 1971 book of the same title. Muggeridge was undergoing a spiritual journey of his own at the time. During the filming of the documentary, footage taken in poor lighting conditions, particularly the Home for the Dying, was thought unlikely to be of usable quality by the crew. After retu
  • Pope John XXIII Peace Prize

    Around this time, the Catholic world began to honor Mother Teresa publicly. In 1971, Paul VI awarded her the first Pope John XXIII Peace Prize, commending her for her work with the poor, display of Christian charity and efforts for peace. Teresa received the Pacem in Terris Award in 1976.
  • Nobel Peace Prize

    Nobel Peace Prize
    In 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, "for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace." She refused the conventional ceremonial banquet given to laureates, and asked that the $192,000 funds be given to the poor in India, stating that earthly rewards were important only if they helped her help the world's needy. When Mother Teresa received the prize, she was asked, "What can we do to promote world peace?" She answe
  • Bharath Ratna for Teresa

    She continued to receive major Indian rewards in successive decades including, in 1972, the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding. In 1980 Teresa received India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna
  • Siege of Beirut

    In 1982, at the height of the Siege of Beirut, Mother Teresa rescued 37 children trapped in a front line hospital by brokering a temporary cease-fire between the Israeli army and Palestinian guerrillas. Accompanied by Red Cross workers, she traveled through the war zone to the devastated hospital to evacuate the young patients. When the walls of Eastern Europe collapsed, she expanded her efforts to Communist countries that had previously rejected the Missionaries of Charity, embarking on dozens
  • Battling with pneumonia

    Battling with pneumonia
    In 1991, after a battle with pneumonia while in Mexico, she suffered further heart problems. She offered to resign her position as head of the Missionaries of Charity. But the nuns of the order, in a secret ballot, voted for her to stay. Mother Teresa agreed to continue her work as head of the order.
  • Golden Honor of the Nation

    Mother Teresa's Albanian homeland granted her the Golden Honor of the Nation in 1994. Her acceptance of this and another honour granted by the Haitian government proved controversial. Mother Teresa attracted criticism, particularly from the left, for implicitly giving support to the Duvaliers, to corrupt businessmen such as Charles Keating and Robert Maxwell, and to politicians on the right of Western politics, such as U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and United States President Ronald Reag
  • Health Problems

    Health Problems
    In April 1996, Mother Teresa fell and broke her collar bone. In August she suffered from malaria and failure of the left heart ventricle. She had heart surgery, but it was clear that her health was declining.
  • Teresa passes Away

    Teresa passes Away
    On March 13, 1997, she stepped down from the head of Missionaries of Charity and died on September 5, 1997, nine days after her 87th birthday. The Archbishop of Calcutta, Henry Sebastian D'Souza, said he ordered a priest to perform an exorcism on Mother Teresa with her permission when she was first hospitalized with cardiac problems because he thought she may be under attack by the devil. At the time of her death, Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity had over 4,000 sisters, an associated br
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    Life in Calcutta

    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.
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    Order of Merit and honorary citizenship

    Mother Teresa was honored by both governments and civilian organizations. The United Kingdom and the United States each repeatedly granted awards, culminating in the Order of Merit in 1983, and honorary citizenship of the United States received on November 16, 1996.