Introduction to Mother Teresa

“The cry of Jesus on the Cross, ‘I thirst’ (Jn 19: 28), expressing the depth of Gods longing for man, penetrated Mother Teresas soul and found fertile soil in her heart.”
—Pope John Paul II
19 October 2003

The Future Mother Teresa

A Holy Life

Mother Teresa’s life began in Skopje, Yugoslavia, and ended in Calcutta. Her journey, however, took many different paths along the way.

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Mother Teresa canonization

Road to Sainthood

Mother Teresa served as a living example to others, including Fr. Angelo Scolozzi, M.C.III.O, of being a model of God’s love and mercy.

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Mother Teresa's Mission

‘I Thirst, I Quench’

In her own words, Mother Teresa encourages her Missionaries of Charity to embrace their vocation as a gift from God and to use it as inspiration for the work they are doing.

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The canonization process for Mother Teresa

The Mother Teresa I Knew

Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala, M.C., the first priest ordained as a Missionary of Charity, speaks of Mother Teresa’s impact on his life and vocation.

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The grace of Mother Teresa

A Journey of Grace

The life of Mother Teresa was one of continually answering God’s call to serve others in whatever way necessary.

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Mother Teresa: Saint of the Gutters

Saint of the Gutters

In earlier centuries, Mother Teresa might have been declared a saint upon her death. Though it has taken 19 years, her road to canonization has been swift.

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A Brief History of Mother Teresa

The following are some highlights of her life.

Years in Service
Missionaries of Charity Worldwide (2012)
Awards Earned
Year Awarded Nobel Peace Prize

Click the button on the right to download the prayer that Mother Teresa and her sisters would recite at the beginning of each day!

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Before She Became Teresa

Her middle name, Gonxha, means “little flower” in Albanian. Even before blossoming into her life as a religious sister, young Agnes Bojaxhiu showed signs of passionate devotion to Christ. Early on, she began celebrating her birthday on the day of her baptism, August 27. Who could have predicted that this “little flower” would go on to serve the poorest of the poor thousands of miles away?

Teresa before she was Mother
Mother Teresa's life as a young sister

Life as a Young Sister

Captivated by stories of missionaries, Agnes left her family home in Skopje in 1928 at the age of 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto. “Be so kind to hear my sincere desire,” she humbly wrote to the Loreto Mother Superior. “I want to join your Society, so that one day I may become a missionary sister, and work for Jesus who died for us all.” 

Needing to learn English first, the young postulant spent six weeks in Loreto Abbey in Dublin, Ireland. She set sail for India on December 1, 1928, to give her life to service.

Call within a Call

For years, Mother Teresa refused to talk about this seminal moment in her life. But worldwide interest in her “call within a call” would not diminish. Reluctantly, she spoke about it. “God was calling me to give up all and to surrender myself to him in the service of the poorest of the poor in the slums.” 

The call happened on September 10, 1946, as she traveled by train from Calcutta to Darjeeling. Suddenly, a new mission presented itself. “To fail would have been to break the faith,” she said.

Mother Teresa's call within a call
Mother Teresa's emphasis on poverty

Relief for Calcutta's Suffering

Mother Teresa opened wide the doors of mercy and charity for the poorest of the poor in Calcutta. It was her life’s calling—what she considered to be an order from God. Mother Teresa directed her Missionaries of Charity to serve “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people who have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.”

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Mother Teresa!

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Dark Night of the Soul

“I am told God lives in me — and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.”
—Mother Teresa, 1957

Teresas letters revealed that she wrestled with a sense of God’s absence for the last 50 years of her life. This was met with worldwide confusion and intrigue. What did this spiritual dryness mean? How did she perform her duties under the stress? Had she lost her faith in God?

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On the surface, Mother Teresa’s emptiness and lack of consolation appear shocking, but in reality she was experiencing what Catholic spirituality describes as “the dark night of the soul.” There is no question that to suffer this period must have been a terrible trial. What it says is that this saintly nun also bore a gigantic cross that only increased her holiness and union with God.

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Her Works and Words

The Legacy of Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa canonization

The Region of Calcutta

From Lonely Planet: As the former capital of British India, Calcutta retains a feast of colonial-era architecture contrasting starkly with urban slums and dynamic new-town suburbs with their air-conditioned shopping malls.

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Mother Teresa canonization

Catholic Relief Services

Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic Church in the United States. Founded in 1943 by the Catholic bishops of the United States, the agency provides assistance to 130 million people in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide.

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How Does One Become a Saint?

For almost the first millennium of the Church’s life, there was no centralized canonization process with investigation into the person’s life and miracles attributed to his or her intercession. The local Church recognized as saints holy women and men
whose life and death demonstrated great virtue. 

The term “Servant of God” now describes someone at the start of the entire process, which begins in the local diocese and eventually moves
to the Holy See’s Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. A person whose life and writings have been formally investigated can be declared Venerable. Martyrs do not need a miracle for beatification. For others, after a miracle has been investigated and accepted by separate
committees of doctors, theologians, and cardinals, the person is approved for beatification. 

The final step for canonization is the verification of two miracles attributed to that holy person’s intercession,
both of which undergo intense scrutiny.

—Pat McCloskey, OFM

Enjoy these books and features about Mother Teresa! 

St. Anthony Messenger magazine, brought to you by the Franciscans.
Thirsting for God: Daily Meditations by Mother Teresa
St. Theresa of Calcutta: Missionary, Mother, Mystic
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