MOTHER Teresa


MOTHER Teresa
(1910 - 1997)



Albanian-born founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity--a Roman Catholic congregation of women dedicated to the poor, particularly to the destitute of India. She was the recipient of the 1979 Nobel Prize for Peace.
The daughter of an Albanian grocer, she went to Ireland in 1928 to join the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, sailing, only six weeks later, to India as a teacher. She subsequently requested permission to work with the poor of Calcutta.

After studying nursing, Mother Teresa moved into the slums. Municipal authorities, upon her petition, gave her the pilgrim hostel near the sacred Kali's temple where she founded her order in 1948. Sympathetic companions soon flocked to her aid. Dispensaries and outdoor schools were organized. Mother Teresa adopted Indian citizenship, and her Indian nuns all donned the sari as their habit. In 1950 her order received canonical sanction from Pope Pius XII, and in 1965 it became a pontifical congregation (subject only to the pope). The order opened numerous centres serving the blind, the aged, lepers, cripples, and the dying. Under Mother Teresa's guidance, the Missionaries of Charity built, near Asansol, India, a leper colony called Shanti Nagar (Town of Peace). She continued to head the order, despite years of health problems, until her retirement in March 1997.

In 1963 the Indian government awarded Mother Teresa the Padmashri ("Lord of the Lotus") for her services to the people of India. In 1964, on his trip to India, Pope Paul VI gave her his ceremonial limousine, which she immediately raffled to help finance her leper colony. In 1968 she was summoned to Rome to found a home there, staffed primarily with Indian nuns. In recognition of her apostolate, she was honoured on Jan. 6, 1971, by Pope Paul, who awarded her the first Pope John XXIII Peace Prize. Her missionary activity was recognized with the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

In the late 1970s the Missionaries of Charity numbered more than 1,000 nuns who operated 60 centres in Calcutta and more than 200 worldwide centres, including foundations in Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Jordan, Venezuela, Great Britain, and Australia.


BIBLIOGRAPHY.
Mother Theresa's life and ministry are chronicled in Malcolm Muggeridge, Something Beautiful for God (1971, reissued 1986), based on the author's television interview and BBC film; Desmond Doig, Mother Teresa: Her People and Her Work (1976); and Eileen Egan, Such a Vision of the Street (1985).


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