September 5, 2021, marks the 24th death anniversary of Mother Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu, widely known as Mother Teresa and honoured as Saint Teresa of Calcutta by the Catholic Church. She was born on August 26 in 1910 in Skopje, the capital of the present-day European country of North Macedonia, and a part of the Ottoman Empire at the time. After living in Skopje for eighteen years, Teresa moved to Ireland and then to India, eventually getting her Albanian-Indian identity. In 1950, she founded the Missionaries of Charity, a religious congregation of now over 5,000 missionaries that vow wholeheartedly to serve the poorest of the poor for free. The other three vows include chastity, poverty and obedience.
On the death anniversary of Teresa, who is celebrated for her work for the poor sections of society, here are some interesting facts about her life.
- Mother Teresa’s full name is Mother Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu but her birth name was Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu. Anjezë in Albanian means rosebud.
- Despite being born on August 26, Mother Teresa considered her birthday on August 27, because it was the day she was baptised.
- During her childhood, Teresa was fascinated by the stories of missionaries’ work in Bengal and she decided that she would commit to religious life.
- Teresa was fluent in five languages — Albanian, Bengali, English, Hindi and Serbian.
- During the 1982 Lebanon War, Teresa convinced both fighting sides — Palestinian guerrillas and the Israeli Army — for a temporary ceasefire and rescued 27 children who were trapped in a front-line hospital.
- Teresa was awarded the highest civilian honour in India — Bharat Ratna — in 1980, a year after she received the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. She asked the Nobel committee to donate the money reserved for her ceremonial bouquet to the poor in India.
- Till a year before she died in 1997, Teresa had worked on more than 517 missions across more than 100 countries across the globe.
- She was also widely criticised for her anti-abortion and anti-contraception views.
- Critics have also highlighted her relationships with powerful and corrupt personalities. She is dubbed as a religious imperialist in some academic works.
- For her service to the people of all religions in the country, Teresa received a state funeral from the Indian Government, an honour otherwise reserved for presidents or serving prime ministers.