Continue reading to learn more about Mother Teresa and why the small saint, who died decades ago, has been pulled into a contemporary election campaign dispute in the United States.
Mother Teresa, or Saint Teresa of Calcutta, was canonized as a saint a day before her 19th death anniversary. She represents genuine humanity. The small woman with aged face, dressed in a blue-edged sari, is an image of unsurpassed spiritual and charitable commitment.
Also known as the “Saint of the Gutters”, she often interacted with the poorest among the poor, and the rich and powerful. But she lived in a world without material comforts and died with practically little.
|Birth Name||Gonxha Agnes Bojaxhiu|
|Famous Names||Mother Teresa, Saint Teresa of Calcutta|
|Date of Birth||26 August 1910|
|Place of Birth||Skopje|
|Lived in||Calcutta, India|
|Hair Color||Light Brown|
|Eye color||Light Brown|
|Date of Death||05 Sep 1997|
|Cause of Death||Heart ailment|
|Siblings||Aga (sister) & Lazar (brother)|
Books in Amazon
|Quotes||“By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”|
|Major Awards and Recognition||U.S Presidential Medal of Freedom, (1985)
Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honor in India (1980)
Nobel Peace Prize, (1979)
Pacem in Terris Award (1976)
Templeton Prize (1973)
Pope John XXIII Peace Prize, (1971)
Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India (1962)
|Trivia||She never saw her mother and sister after leaving Skopje at 18yo.|
Mother Teresa’s Salary
|Estimated Net Worth (when she was alive)||$ 100M|
|How Much Did Mother Teresa Earn Every year?||$ 8M (est)|
|What are Mother Teresa’s Fund Sources?||Donations|
|How Much Does Mother Teresa Earn from Donations?||$100M (approx. total)|
Mother Teresa’s Net Worth and Her Charities
In 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, for which she received $192,000. She requested that the Nobel committee forego the lavish meal and instead donate the funds to the underprivileged.
According to a blog post, upon an inquiry into the Missionary of Charities’ (MoC) actual funds, the Indian Finance Ministry listed the amount as “classified information”.
In Germany, a woman named Maria Tingelhoff, who had managed the organization’s accounts until 1981, estimated that the congregation’s coffers had DEM 3 million ($1.6 million). Susan Shields, a former MoC nun who served for nine years, said there was once $ 50 million in the group’s New York bank account.
In 1991, its England branch allegedly made DM5.3 million ($1.95 million) versus DM360,000 ($200K) in costs. A significant amount of the cash are sent to Rome and deposited in a Vatican bank account.
Mother Teresa’s Childhood
Gonxha was born in Albania. Agnes Bojaxhiu is the youngest child of Nikola and Drana and lives in Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia. She was baptized the day after she was born, got her first communion at the age of five, and obtained her confirmation at the age of six.
According to a book authored by Joan Graff Clucas, Gonxha was interested in the life of missionaries in Bengal from an early age and aspired to be one.
She attended a state-sponsored secondary school run by a convent, where she performed in the local Sacred Heart choir. At the age of 12, she understood her calling to the holy path while attending the yearly pilgrimage to the Church of the Black Madonna in Letnice.
The Family of Mother Teresa
The Bojaxhius were fervent Catholics, and the family patriarch Nikola was a devout Catholic. He was a strong advocate for Albanian independence. He worked as a building contractor and sold medications and other products to support his family.
When Gonxha was eight years old, her father Nikola became ill and died, leaving her mother, Drana, to raise the family alone. Despite this, Gonxha received a good upbringing, and the foundation of her religious education remained strong. She was quite active in the Sacred Heart Jesuit parish.
Mother Teresa is ordained as a nun.
Gonxha left Skopje at the age of 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto at Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham, Ireland, to pursue his dream of becoming a missionary. She picked up the English language while she was there.
In India, Mother Teresa
On January 6, 1929, she landed in Calcutta and began her novitiate in Darjeeling, where she learnt Bengali and taught at St. Teresa’s School, which was close to her convent.
She professed her first religious vows on May 24, 1931, and received the name sister Mary Teresa after St. Therese of Lisieux, the patron saint of missions. Six years later, on 14 May 1937, she made her Final Profession of Vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. She taught in the Loreto convent school in Entally, eastern Calcutta, at the same time.
Teresa was a teacher at the school for about 20 years, and she was promoted to principal.
In 1944, she became the headmistress. Calcutta’s obvious poverty bothered her, as did the Bengal famine of 1943 and the simmering Muslim-Hindu riots precipitated by Direct Action Day in August 1946.
Mother Teresa’s “Call within a Call”
It was while riding a train from Calcutta in 1946, that Mother Teresa had her second calling. In what she termed as the “call within a call”, she said Jesus spoke to her and told her to abandon teaching to work in the slums of Calcutta aiding the city’s neediest and sickest people.
It took more than a year of lobbying and convincing before her convent approved to support her new calling.
Her life transformed forever, when in August 1948, wearing a blue and white sari, she left the convent to start her mission in Calcutta’s streets. She held on to nothing but the goal to provide aid to “the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for.”
Teresa formed the Missionaries of Charity in 1950 to pursue her lifelong mission and calling, focusing on people who are marginalized, such as refugees, former prostitutes, mentally ill, sick, and abandoned children.
The group runs residences for the sick and underprivileged, with a focus on HIV/AIDS, leprosy, and TB patients. Orphanages and schools, soup kitchens, dispensaries, mobile clinics, and children’s and family counseling programs were all used to accomplish this.
The community has around 4,500 religious sisters as of 2012. Like their founder Mother Teresa, Missionaries of Charity members take vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, and also profess a fourth vow—to give “wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor.”
Calcutta’s Patron Saint
In a mainly Hindu society, it would have been impossible for a Roman Catholic missionary to get respect. Mother Teresa, on the other hand, received more than a mere acknowledgement. Within 10 years, she was recognized as “the saint of Calcutta,” for carrying out her charity work in India’s slums.
As she stumbled through the busy streets, people would stoop down to stroke her feet as a token of respect. According to Navin Chawla, who wrote a book on Mother Teresa, in response to the behavior and to discourage it, she would try to uplift her devotees.
Mother Teresa is well-known over the world.
In 1967, Mother Teresa was interviewed during a BBC television broadcast, which catapulted her into the international limelight. After meeting her, renowned journalist Malcolm Muggeridge was so moved by her that he flew to Calcutta a year later to film a documentary on Teresa’s “House of the Dying” called “Something Beautiful for God.” Years later, Muggeridge would publish a novel with the same title.
In 1965, the congregation extended abroad of India, with the first home establishing in Venezuela, just two years previous to the interview. The Missionaries of Charity established their first residence in the United States in New York in 1971. They now operate in 25 of the United States’ 193 Catholic dioceses.
In more than 100 countries, the church operates almost 600 clinics, orphanages, soup kitchens, maternity homes, refugee shelters, and homes for the destitute, ill, and dying.
Mother Teresa’s Acknowledgements
In 1980, she was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honor.
Her contributions were honored by the world community with the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding in 1962, as well as the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971. She was also made a Companion of the Order of Australia honorary.
The Saint of Mother Teresa
The process of beatification and canonization for a Roman Catholic saint is lengthy. If all of the requirements are completed, the pope will celebrate a special Mass in which the person will be acknowledged as such.
Mother Teresa was beatified in 2003 and canonized on September 4, 2016, a day before her 19th death anniversary. According to the New York Times, it is one of the quickest procedures in recent memory, in part because she was close to the Vatican and was frequently invited to visit then-Pope John Paul II in Rome.
Mother Teresa is credited with a number of miracles.
Monica Besra, who had a dangerous abdominal tumor that physicians couldn’t remove in 1998, was the first person to ascribe a miracle to Mother Teresa. Monica visited the Missionaries of Charity chapel to pray. The tumor purportedly vanished when a miracle medal touched by Mother Teresa’s corpse was placed on Besra’s tummy.
Marcilio Haddad Andrino, a Brazilian, was dying and unconscious due to a brain illness when the second miracle occurred. Fernanda prayed to Mother Teresa for assistance and placed the relic, a wedding present from a priest, on Marcilio’s head, and he healed later.
Mother Teresa was both adored and reviled, mostly for her adamant opposition to abortion and for giving insufficient care to the poor and defenseless. Critics claim that her order’s care facilities and orphanages were inadequate, and that funds were mismanaged and misused.
In 1994, Dr. Robin Fox paid a visit to Home for the Dying and reported about his experience in The Lancet, a British medical publication. According to Dr. Fox, one of the most striking discoveries was that patient care was supplied by unskilled volunteers, and that comfort for the dying was insufficient.
Dr. Aroup Chatterjee, a London-based physician who grew up in Calcutta, published “Mother Teresa: The Untold Story” in 2016, which challenges one’s view of Mother Teresa as a saint. He said he found a “cult of suffering” in homes run by the Missionaries of Charity.
Exposé of Mother Teresa
Hell’s Angel, a severely critical documentary on Mother Teresa’s dubious efforts, was released in 1994. Dr. Chatterjee said he discovered a “cult of pain” at Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity institutions, with youngsters chained to beds and nothing but aspirin to soothe dying patients.
The Death of Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997, at the age of 87, after suffering from a variety of diseases in 1996, including pneumonia and malaria. A few days previously, the world had grieved the loss of another well-known humanitarian, Princess Diana.
TIME journalist Roger Rosenblatt highlighted that the two ladies had been together in New York months before. They became friends as a result of their same interests.
A reader expressed his feelings over Mother Teresa’s obituary in a heartfelt letter to the editor: “Let it not be said that Mother Teresa died of heart failure. It is far more accurate to say she had at long last given all her heart away.”
Mother Teresa has been drawn into the 2020 US Congressional ad debate.
Despite the fact that she died over two decades ago, her name was recently brought up in a US Congressional campaign issue.
Republican Chuck Dietzen, one of the 15 candidates for Indiana’s 5th Congressional district, received a cease and desist order from Florida lawyer Jim Towey, who represented Mother Teresa for decades when she was alive, and asked him to remove his campaign ad featuring him and Mother Teresa in an old photo.
Towey chastised Dietzen, claiming that Mother Teresa forbade the use of her name, image, or likeness for any political purpose or message during her lifetime.
During one of his journeys to India in the 1990s, the former Chief of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine at Riley Children’s Hospital encountered Mother Teresa while helping surgery on children with polio and cerebral palsy.
Towey was challenged by Dietzen’s side, who demanded confirmation that he still represents the Missionaries of Charity. At the request of the aforementioned organisation, Hillary Clinton withdrew Mother Teresa’s picture from her presidential campaign in 2007.