NEW DELHI: The iconic smiling wrinkled face of Mother Teresa is synonymous with charity. The woman who gave up everything materialistic to dedicate her life to "God's work: Take care of those who are neglected by all", has been the mission of the order she established known as Missionaries of Charity. On Mother Teresa's 110th birthday, here are some interesting facts about how she was named, what does her Order do and why did she adopt a plain white saree with three blue stripes as the dress of her mission.
How was Mother Teresa named
Mother Teresa, now known in the Catholic Church as Saint Teresa of Kolkata, was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Macedonia, on August 26, 1910, in a family of Albanian descent. Gonxha in Albanian means a rosebud.
At the age of eighteen, she left home to join the Sisters of Loreto, an Irish community of nuns with missions in India. After some training in Dublin, she came to India and while she started teaching at a convent, she took her initial vows as a nun in 1931. She wanted to be named after Thérèse de Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries but because a nun in the convent had already chosen that name, she opted for its Spanish spelling: Teresa.
Till 1948 Mother Teresa taught at St. Marys High School in Calcutta. But her urge to work for the poorest of the poor led her on to leave the convent and instead she started an open-air school in a Kolkata slum.
Gradually, more people started signing up as voluntary helpers and the financial aide started pouring in. In October 1950, Mother Teresa received permission from the Holy See to start her own order "The Missionaries of Charity” and by 1965 the Missionaries of Charity became an international religious family by a decree of Pope Paul VI.
Missionaries of Charity
Originally, Mother Teresa started out as a nun teaching at convent schools. But she decided to establish the order after her mystical encounter with Jesus Christ during a train journey in 1946 when she was travelling to Darjeeling for her annual Loreto retreat.
Later Mother Teresa referred to this encounter as the 'call within a call' where Christ urged her to give up all and follow Him into the slums to serve Him in the poorest of the poor. "Come be my light," He commanded, "I cannot go alone – they don't know me, so they don't want me. Go amongst them, carry me with you into them…" explains the Missionaries of Charity on their website.
The Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation, that started with 12 nuns in 1950, now counts over 5,167 nuns or religious sisters who are active in 133 countries.
A member of the congregation requires to adhere to the vows of chastity, poverty, obedience, and the fourth vow, to give "wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor."
Missionaries run charity hospitals, schools, HIV/AIDS and leprosy treatment centres, they work for the upliftment of prostitutes, refugees and orphans. They also work with the blind, the unmarried women and divorcees.
For the extent of good work that Mother Teresa did over the years through the Missionaries of Charity, she received the Nobel Peace Prize of 1979.
Why the white saree with three blue stripes
The white cotton saree, an Indian attire, draped in Bengali style and with three blue stripes is synonymous with Mother Teresa. But how did a common white saree become a religiouRead More – Source