Teresa of Calcutta (baptism name Agnese Gonxha),
child of an Albanian grocer, was born in 1910 in the little
Macedonian city of Skopje. Having entered in 1928 into the
congregation of the Sisters of Loreto (Irish), she was invited to
Darjeeling, in India.
In 1948, after a few years of teaching at the Saint Mary High School in Calcutta, a boarding school for Catholic girls, she was given the authorization from Rome, with the signature of Pope Pius XII to leave the convent.
years of age, Sister Teresa donned for the first time a
“sari” (traditional garment of Indian women) of crude
cotton white, adorned with an azure border, the colour of the
Virgin Mary. She went around asking for
food and medicine, soliciting in order to cure and feed her
After three days, she opened a school, outdoors, under a tree.
Her dwelling was a dirt hut and there she took those who were not welcomed by the hospitals. In February 1949, Michele Gomez, State Administration Officer, made a room on the top floor of a house on Creek Lane available to Sister Teresa, and there joined the first sister. In the Autumn of 1950, Pope Pius XII officially authorized the new institution, named "Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity".
During the Winter of 1952, a day in which she was going around seeking the poor, she found a woman who was dying along the road, too weak to fight against the mice and rats gnawing at her toes. She took her to the nearest hospital, where, after much difficult, the dying woman was accepted. Sister Teresa got the idea to ask the city administration for the attribution of a place to receive abandoned, dying people.
Besides the life that dies, the founder also saw lives being born with the open of the Children's home, Shishu bhavan, which welcomed abandoned babies, often found in dustbins.
Many of the Mother's projects were realised by the most ambitious one has yet to be mentioned: taking lepers, her dearest children as she defined them, from the slums. She went each day to see them and take care of them in their pitiful shacks but hoped to build them a city. She already knew that she would build it in Asansole, on the lands donated to her by the government that 400 leprous families would live there and that she would call it “City of Peace”, Chantinabal but she didn't have the money. Thanks to help and awards the village of peace came. Inside the city there are shops, gardens, a post office and schools.
By this time, the name Mother Teresa crossed the borders of India and thus the congregation in Cocorote, Venezuela was opened, the first house of the Missionaries of Charity. It was July 1965.
In 1979 she received the Balzan Award and the Nobel Peace Prize. Many other certifications and recognitions followed. In 1989 she was proclaimed Woman of the Year.
The fragrance of Mother Teresa's charity had by that time reached the 5 continents where more than 4000 or her religious brothers and sisters are: in India there were 150 homes, 30 in other Asian countries, 10 in Oceania, 45 in Europe, 52 in the Americas and 30 in Africa.
After having spent her life for the “poorest of the poor”, Mother Teresa died in Calcutta on September 5, 1997.
On October 19, 2003, Pope John Paul II proclaimed her “beatified.”
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