Pope Francis on Sunday declared Mother Teresa of Kolkata a Saint of the Catholic Church in front of thousands of pilgrims at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican city.
“We declare and define Blessed Teresa of Calcutta to be a Saint,” the Catholic News Agency quoted the Pope as telling the thousands including many Indians who stood while holding the Indian flag.
“For the honour of the Blessed Trinity, the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the increase of the Christian life, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own, after due deliberation and frequent prayer for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brother Bishops, we declare and define Blessed Teresa of Calcutta to be a Saint,” the Pope said.
The journey of Saint Teresa’s life has been remarkable. She taught and inspired many. Here are some important events from her timeline:
- 1910: Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, present-day Macedonia, on August 26; Baptised on August 27.
- 1922-1923: At age 12, feels first call to religious life.
- 1928: Leaves home on Sep 25 to become a Roman Catholic Loreto nun and begins novitiate training in Dublin. Takes the name, Sister Teresa.
- 1929: Arrives in Kolkata, becomes a teacher at St Mary’s School.
- 1931: Takes her first vows as a nun.
- 1937: Takes final vows as a nun, becomes known as Mother Teresa.
- 1946: On a train to Darjeeling on Sep 10, receives “the call within the call” to serve the poor.
- 1948: Starts teaching poor children, opens her first slum school; Shifts to 14, Creek Lane.
- 1950: Founds the Missionaries of Charity on Oct 7 with 12 sisters after getting the green signal from the Vatican.
- 1951: Receives Indian Citizenship.
- 1952: Opens first home for dying at Kalighat in South Kolkata. Names it Nirmal Hriday (Pure Heart).
- 1953: Leaves Creek Lane and shifts to a two-storeyed building on Lower Circular Road; it’s now called Mother House, the global headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity.
- 1957: Begins her work with lepers for which her Order becomes well known around the world.
- 1962: Receives Padma Shri from the President for her humanitarian work.
- 1963: Founds Missionaries of Charity, Brothers.
- 1965: Catholic Church grants permission for setting up missions outside India; the first opens that year in Venezuela.
- 1971: Receives Pope John XXIII Peace Prize and uses the money to build a leper colony.
- 1976: Founds Missionaries of Charity, Contemplative Sisters.
- 1979: Receives Nobel Peace Prize for work with the destitute and dying.
- 1980: Conferred India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna.
- 1982: Rescues 37 mentally disabled children from a hospital in besieged Beirut.
- 1983: Visits Pope John Paul II. Hospitalised with a heart attack, first of several.
- 1984: Founds Missionaries of Charity Fathers.
- 1985: Awarded Medal of Freedom, highest US civilian honour.
- 1990: Resigns as superior general of the Missionaries of Charity but is re-elected.
- 1997: Steps down as head of her order.
- 1997: Dies of heart failure in Kolkata on Sep 5, aged 87.
- 2003: Beatified by Pope John Paul II — placing her a step from sainthood.
- 2016: Declared a saint by Pope Francis on Sep 4