She refused the comfort and tranquillity so desired and sought after today because she saw the needs of the simple people and she unwittingly sparked a revolution of love. She went down in history, not with any title of nobility, but simply as Mother Teresa.
Real name Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, Mother Teresa was born in 1910, in Albania, which was at that time devastated by war and poverty. Joining the Missionary Order of Nuns “Loreto Sisters”, she worked as a teacher for 20 years, after which she had the revelation that her mission is to be the servant of the poorest of the poor. “As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus”. This was the motto that guided her steps.
Understanding that the unwanted, unloved, and forgotten by the world were poorer than those who had nothing to eat, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity Organisation (in 1950) in faraway India. The lessons of sympathy, compassion, humility, and sacrifice that she taught, through her personal example, day by day, transformed her into the mother of the poor and, at the same time, into an eloquent Christian example for the whole world.
The Nobel Peace Prize, received in 1979, crowned and confirmed the value and impact of her work. Accepting the award, Mother Teresa dedicated it to the oppressed, to those she served. Aware of the influence she gained over the years, as well as the interest shown by the mass media in her work, Mother Teresa spoke from the highest platforms of the world about the tragic situation of the poor. Sometimes, she shocked the public with categorical statements— “the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion”, she said—or with severe criticisms aimed at materialism, feminist movements, and disinterest in the souls of the downcast and oppressed.
Perfectly combining altruism, courage, dedication, and love, Mother Teresa became, as the encyclopaedia The 100 Most Influential Women of All Time points out, one of the women who made history and transformed the mentality of the time. In 1985, when she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, US President Ronald Reagan said: “Some people, some very few people are, in the truest sense, citizens of the world; Mother Teresa is”.
The organisation she founded in India became a model for many similar foundations, opened in the most diverse corners of the world: Italy, Tanzania, Venezuela, the Soviet Union, Albania, or Cuba. Today, over a million volunteers associated with the Missionaries of Charity Organisation work for the needy on six continents. Mother Teresa continues to be a source of inspiration for young and old, rich and poor, regardless of religion or nationality.