BELGRADE – On September 4, the Vatican will hold a ceremony, officiated by Pope Francis, to canonize Mother Teresa, the Roman Catholic nun and missionary of Albanian descent whose work to help the poor of Calcutta (now Kolkata), India, and ease their suffering earned her numerous honors, including the Nobel Peace Prize.
To many, Mother Teresa was a humble person with an unlimited capacity to offer unconditional love to people.
“There are two kinds of poverty. There is the poverty of material, for example, in some places like India, Ethiopia or some other places, where people are hungry for bread, real hunger. But there is much deeper hunger and that is hunger for love,” she once said.
Giving comfort to the suffering, offering shelter to the homeless, and helping the poorest of the poor was Mother Teresa’s life work.
Mother Teresa was born Anjeza Gonxhe Bojaxhiu on August 26, 1910, the third child of Albanian parents, in Skopje, Macedonia. She was raised in a middle class family, and at 18 decided to become a nun.
She joined the Loretta Order, first as a student and then as a teacher at a Roman Catholic girls’ school in Calcutta, India.
Professor Gëzim Alpion says she later left her teaching post to devote her life to working among the poor in the slums of that city – and to start a new order, Missionaries of Charity.
“What Mother Teresa put in practice was different from the European orders in Calcutta and India at that time. She believed she could serve the ‘human debris’ better by living like them, in the poorest areas of Calcutta. And she did this with that kind of integrity, which is impossible not to admire,” Alpion says.