Born Agnese Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, when she entered religious life she chose the name Teresa in honor of Therese de Lisieux, patron saint of missionaries. She became Mother Teresa after having taken her final vows into the religious life. She taught the world lessons about love. Her charity and sense of humanity towards those who were suffering made her truly exemplify the belief that she held so dear that there is a God and we are all his children.
1. Work of God
Mother Teresa was 87 when she died. For most of her life, she was completely immersed in the work of God. Not even sleep would stop her from doing what she knew was needed. Her dedication to the sick led to her exposure to a great many illnesses and diseases, none of which did she ever complain about when she fell ill. Her dedication was inspirational.
Around 1980, Mother Teresa started “Homes” for those women who had no one. These homes were places where prostitutes, orphans, drug addicts and people suffering from various incurable diseases, to name just a few, were able to come to receive care. In 1985, a new Home for those who were suffering from AIDS was established.
3. At Home In India
Mother Teresa is best remembered in India, where she spent a great deal of her time, including setting up the headquarters of her own missionary sisters. India was her home for the last 69 years of her life. Both before and after her death, the Indian government recognized her as one of their own.
4. Fluency in 5 Languages
In order to better serve others, Mother Teresa learned and spoke 5 languages fluently. She spoke English, Albanian, Serbo-Croat, Bengali, and Hindi. Knowledge of these languages was especially helpful later in her life when she traveled abroad to speak to congregations of people.
Mother Teresa was not just a nun, she was also a teacher. She taught geography and basic literacy. She had training as a nurse in healthcare, nursing and nutrition. In her youth, she was a writer who had a couple of articles published in a local paper and wrote poems.
Mother Teresa was very vocal about her stand on abortion. She was pro-life and felt that it was important to give the unborn child the right to have his or her rights defended. She spoke at a rally in Scotland to forward this cause.
7. Health Problems Mother Teresa did not make it known that she suffered from a heart condition. Despite her illness she maintained a very physically demanding schedule. She eventually suffered a heart attack and had a pacemaker surgically fitted to her chest. Even after this devastating blow to her health, she continued her work for another 8 years.
8. “Missionaries of Charity”
At the time of Mother Teresa’s death, her organization “Missionaries of Charity” was working in 123 countries with 3,914 sisters in 594 communities across the world. It is both amazing and inspirational that she alone grew her missionaries to what they’ve become today.
9. Papal Visit
Pope John Paul II visited Mother Teresa at her missionary headquarters and actually spent a short while there participating in activities and giving his blessing. It was rare for the Pope to give any one individual the kind of attention that he had given to Mother Teresa.
10. Awards and Honors
Mother Teresa received more 120 prestigious awards and honors, among them the Padma Shri award from the President of India in 1962; the Bharat Ratna (Jewel of India), India’s highest civilian award, in1981, the Order of Merit award in 1983, the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 (the prize money was donated to poor people, as per her request), The Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971 and the highest US civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 1985.