Today in History: 5 September, 1997 - Mother Teresa died

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Today in History: 5th September, in 1997, Mother teresa died aged 87.


Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu (born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu on 26th August 1910) died of a cardiac arrest on 5th September 1997.

She was born in Skopje (now the capital of North Macedonia), then part of the Kosovo Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire.

After living in Skopje for eighteen years, she moved to Ireland and then to India, where she lived for most of her life.

Mother Teresa was an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary who gained international recognition for her humanitarian work.

She was Algerian by birth but went to India as a nun and missionary, where she received "the call within the call" an “order” to help the poor, sick and dying. 

She went on to establish orphanages, hospitals and hospices dedicated to the sick and the poor.

In the slums of Calcutta she started schools, hospices and orphanages, projects that spread worldwide with her fame and reputation.

She began working in the slums of Calcutta in India in 1948 and in 1950, Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation that had over 4,500 nuns and was active in 133 countries in 2012.

The congregation manages homes for people who are dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis. It also runs soup kitchens, dispensaries, mobile clinics, children's and family counselling programmes, as well as orphanages and schools.

Members take vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, and also profess a fourth vow—to give "wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor."

Mother Teresa of Calcutta is best known for her dedication to serving the poorest of the poor as a witness to the Gospel of Mercy.

Yet that did not prevent her from speaking out about abortion, an issue that some believe is a political or religious issue but which she saw as something striking at the very heart of what it means to be human, something intimately tied to the fundamental meaning of her life’s work for which she won nearly universal acclaim.

For Mother Teresa, the second greatest poverty in the world is the experience of being rejected and cast off by society.  The greatest poverty is the spiritual emptiness that causes people to discard other human beings as useless objects.

That’s why, Mother Teresa saw abortion as the greatest example of poverty.  “It is a poverty,” she said, “to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”

Mother Teresa also identified abortion as the greatest threat to peace in the world.  For abortion is not simply a matter of the abandonment and indifference suffered by the poor dying in the streets of Calcutta.  It is an act of intentional violence, of direct killing as a means to an end.

Teresa received a number of honours, including the 1962 Ramon Magsaysay Peace Prize and 1979 Nobel Peace Prize.

In her acceptance speech of the Nobel Peace Prize, she told her distinguished audience: “millions are dying deliberately by the will of the mother. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today. Because if a mother can kill her own child – what is left but for me to kill you and you kill me?”

By her the time of her death she was operating 517 missions in more than 100 countries. 

A miraculous healing of a tumor was attributed to her, allowing Pope John Paul II to posthumously beatify her - bestowing the title ‘blessed’, and bringing her only one step away from becoming a saint.

She was canonised (recognised by the church as a saint) on 4 September 2016, and the anniversary of her death (5 September) is her feast day.


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