Born on August 26, 1910, Mother Teresa was the youngest child in her family. In 1928, Teresa began her missionary work, joining the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland. There, she received the name Sister Mary Teresa after St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
About one year later, Teresa arrived in Calcutta, India, and made her first profession of vows. She was assigned to a school for girls there and began her work as a teacher and administrator.
On September 10, 1946, Mother Teresa was aboard a train from Calcutta when she received a calling from Christ. To her, Jesus revealed His desire to be known and loved among the poor. Two years later, she made Christ’s calling a reality when she donned her iconic blue and white sari and entered the slums of Calcutta. She began each day with mass and communion before she visited with the poor to comfort their spiritual and physical needs.
Other young women saw her work and joined her, and she formed them into a new religious community, the Missionaries of Charity, dedicated to serving the needs of the poor. In 1950, the new congregation was officially established within the Archdiocese of Calcutta. As such, Mother Teresa began sending sisters to various countries, including Venezuela, Cuba, and the former Soviet Union.
In 1962 and 1979, Mother Teresa was granted two honors: the Indian Padmashri Award and the Nobel Peace Prize. Remembering the train ride that inspired her missionary work, Mother Teresa accepted these awards “for the glory of God and in the name of the poor.”
By 1997, Mother Teresa’s work had grown to more than 600 foundations in 123 countries and encompassed nearly 4,000 members. She continued to lead her sisters in Calcutta until her death on September 5, 1997.
On October 19, 2003, Mother Teresa was beatified by Pope John Paul II, and was canonized on September 4, 2016 by Pope Francis. Her feast day is September 5.
Get to know the patron saint of World Youth Day through our Spotify playlist inspired by her life and legacy — featuring artists All Sons & Daughters and Audrey Assad, and themes of love and being the change you want to see in the world.