Mother Teresa


Portrait of Mother TeresaMother Teresa, born Agnes Gonk Bojaxhiu (1910–1997), was an Albanian Roman Catholic nun who founded the Missionaries of Charity in India. Her work among the poverty-stricken in Kolkata (Calcutta) made her one of the world's most famous people. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in October 2003.


Born in Uskub, Ottoman Empire (now Skopje, in the Republic of Macedonia), at 18 she left home to join the Sisters of Loretto. In 1962 she received the Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding. In 1971 she was awarded the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize and St. Gabriel award. Teresa was also awarded the Templeton Prize in 1973, the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, and India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, in 1980.


She was awarded the Legion d'Honneur by Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1981. She was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985, was made an Honorary Citizen of the United States (one of only two people to have this honour during their lifetime) in 1996, and received the Congressional Gold Medal in 1997. She was the first and only person to be featured on an Indian postage stamp while still alive.


Commemorative plaque in Skopje, Macedonia, 17 October 2005Just at the edge of Skopje’s city mall is the place where the house of Mother Theresa used to stand. The memorial plaque was dedicated in March 1998 and it reads: “On this place was the house where Gondza Bojadziu - Mother Theresa - was born on 26 August 1910”. Her message to the world is also inscribed: “The world is not hungry for bread, but for love”


Mother Teresa received UNESCO's 1992 Peace Education Prize, which the Organization awards annually to recognise activities which help to "construct the defences of peace in the minds of men." At the time of her selection, the international jury said the prize paid tribute to "a life entirely consecrated to the service of the poor, to the promotion of peace and to combating injustice."


FAO Ceres Medal for Mother TeresaIn presenting the prize in Calcutta in December 1993, director-general Federico Mayor said that Mother Teresa had taught - by her example of active charity - that true peace was inseparable from the dignity of each individual. In accepting the award, Mother Teresa said that "works of love are works of peace" and that "it is therefore important we pray, because the fruit of prayer was the deepening of faith and of love." The prize money was used to build an extension to the Nirmala Kennedy Centre, a home for the handicapped that she ran in Calcutta.


Statue of Mother Teresa, Skopje, Macedonia, 17 October 2005In March 1975 the Food and Agriculture Organization struck its Ceres Medals in recognition of Mother's "exemplary love and concern for the hungry and the poorest of the poor". The Medal showed Mother Teresa representing the Roman Goddess of Agriculture. In June 1975 she was awarded the Voice of America's International Women's Year Pin for her work for the poor in India.


Former UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar said on her visit to the United Nations in 1985: "This is the most powerful woman on earth. This is the woman who is welcomed everywhere with respect and admiration. She is truly the "United Nations', for she has welcomed into her heart the poor from every corner of the earth!".






The official biography from the Vatican.

Mother Teresa's Message to the Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing 1995.



Stamp catalogue


Bangladesh                          5 September 1999

Papua New Guinea               29 April 1998









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last revised: 28 March 2010