Mother Teresa

Questions and Answers

Question: When and where was Mother Teresa born?

Answer: Mother Teresa was born on 26 August 1910 as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Uskup (now Skopje), Ottoman Empire (now North Macedonia). She was baptised on 27 August.

Question: What were the names of Mother Teresa’s family members?

Answer: Mother Teresa was the third child of Albanian grocer Nikola Bojaxhiu and his wife Drane. She had an older sister, Aga, and an older brother, Lazar. Her father died when she was about eight years old.

Question: Why did Mother Teresa go to India?

Answer: In 1928, when Mother Teresa was 18 years old, she went to Ireland to join the Sisters of Loreto at the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a community of nuns with missions in India. Six weeks later she travelled to India to work as a teacher in the order’s school in Calcutta.

Question: What order did Mother Teresa start?

Answer: In 1946 Mother Teresa experienced what she described as a “call within a call”, or inspiration, to leave the Loreto convent and devote herself to caring for the sick and poor. She then moved into the slums. In 1950, she received permission from the Vatican to found the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious order of women, dedicated to serving “the poorest of the poor”.

Question: Why was she called Mother Teresa?

Answer: When she joined the Irish order Sisters of Loreto, she was given the name Sister Teresa after Saint Thérèse de Lisieux. She became Mother Teresa after making her final vows.

Question: Why did Mother Teresa start her own hospice?

Answer: Mother Teresa’s “call” was caring for the sick and poor. In 1952, she established a hospice where the terminally ill could die with dignity.

At the time of her death, Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity had over 4,000 sisters and hundreds of thousand of volunteers working in hundreds of centres around the world. These included homes for orphaned children, homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leper colonies, and hospices for the terminally ill.

Question: What influenced Mother Teresa?

Answer: In her Nobel Lecture, Mother Teresa said: “I think that we in our family don’t need bombs and guns, to destroy to bring peace – just get together, love one another, bring that peace, that joy, that strength of presence of each other in the home. And we will be able to overcome all the evil that is in the world.”

Question: Was Mother Teresa ever named a saint and is it documented?

Answer: In 1999, only two years after her death, the process to declare her a saint began; a process that normally takes about five years. On 10 October 2003 she was beatified by Pope John Paul II, the third of the four steps in the canonization process to declare a deceased person to be a saint. On 4 September 2016 Mother Teresa was canonized, declared a saint, by Pope Francis.

Question: Why did Mother Teresa get the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize?

Answer: The Norwegian Nobel Committee writes in their motivation: “In making the award the Norwegian Nobel Committee has expressed its recognition of Mother Teresa’s work in bringing help to suffering humanity. This year the world has turned its attention to the plight of children and refugees, and these are precisely the categories for whom Mother Teresa has for many years worked so selflessly.”

Question: When did Mother Teresa die?

Answer: Mother Teresa died of heart failure at the age of 87 on 5 September 1997 in Calcutta, India.

First published 17 September 2008


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