Mother Teresa: A 110-Year-Old Legacy Of Peace And Humanity

Mother Teresa was truly a mother to millions. She dedicated her life to the sick, hungry, and the poor. On her 110th birth anniversary we bring to you some of the lesser known facts about her.
Vaibhavi Mishra
By: Vaibhavi Mishra Updated: Aug 26, 2020 18:03 IST
Mother Teresa: A 110-Year-Old Legacy Of Peace And Humanity
Missionary of Charity founded by her still has over 4,500 nuns actively working 133 countries

Mother Teresa- the mere mention of this name paints the mental picture of a lean wrinkled woman clad in a white saree that has an ink-blue border, propagating peace, humanity, love, spirituality and what not. Synonymous to peace and benevolence almost in all the parts of the world, Mother Teresa dedicated her entire life towards the betterment of the poor. She would spread the message of love and spirituality and had taken it upon herself to help every poor soul, in any manner possible. 

She founded the world-famous Missionary of Charity, which worked towards arranging homes and hospices for those with tuberculosis, leprosy and HIV/AIDS as well as ran soup kitchens, counselling programmes for families, orphanages, and schools. Besides this, she also set up and worked alongside several other charitable organisations. 

She was honoured with a Nobel Prize in 1979 for dedicating her life to the sick, hungry, and poor. On the 100th birth anniversary of this benevolent saint, we bring to you some of the lesser know facts about her.

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She lost her father at the age of eight and became extremely close to her mother. He is believed to have been poisoned by political enemies

  • Mother Teresa left her home to become a nun and joined the Sisters of Loreto in Dublin when she was 18.
  • She chose to be called Teresa after Saint Teresa of Avila, a Spanish Carmelite nun who lived in the 1500s.

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She used to teach geography and catechism in Kolkata-based St. Mary's High School from 1931 to 1948

  • She founded the Missionaries of Charity Brothers in 1963, the contemplative branch of the Sisters in 1976, the Contemplative Brothers in 1979, and the Missionaries of Charity Fathers in 1984.

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    She was voted as one of the 10 most admirable women 18 times in her life

  • She suffered spiritual darkness for a significant amount of time in her life and believed that god had abandoned her. She once said, "If I ever become a saint -- I will surely be one of 'darkness.' I will continually be absent from Heaven — to light the life of those in darkness on earth."

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    Some of her letters recovered in 2007 read- "Where is my faith? Even deep down ... there is nothing but emptiness and darkness..."

  • She once secretly travelled to Beirut, Lebanon in 1982, and offered her services to the children of Christian-dominated East Beirut and Muslim-dominated West Beirut.

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    She rescued 37 children from a frontline hospital war zones

  • She believed that suffering brings people closer to Jesus. She was criticised by many for not supplying the poor with painkillers and medical care, because of this ideology.

  • She also received a lot of criticism for openly condemning contraception and abortion. She used to say, “The greatest destroyer of peace today is the cry of the innocent, unborn child. If a mother can kill her own child in her womb, what is left for you and for me to kill, each other?”

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    Pope was quite impressed with her dedication and had offered to help her in the cause

  • She suffered her second heart attack in 1989, after which she wanted to step down as the head of Missionaries of Charity. She was, however, voted to stay on.

  • She turned down the traditional Nobel Prize honour and requested for funds of USD 192,000 instead for the poor in India. 

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    She met Princess Diana during her last days. Mother Teresa died of cardiac arrest within a week after Princess Diana's demise

  • She was beatified as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta in 2003, years after her death.

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A multi-media journalist and writer, Vaibhavi views the world as one big piece of poetry. Time and again she tries to capture this poetry through words, as well as, the lens. She loves to explore the depth of human psyche, philosophy, cultures, and oceans! Carrying forward this quest for exploration she reports on various beats ranging from tourism, culture, art, social issues, business, market trends, science and environment to technology. For her, the life mantra can be summarised with the catchphrases, “Hakuna Matata” and “Carpe Diem”.