25 Fascinating Facts About Mother Teresa And Her Extraordinary Life

On Sunday, 4 September 2016, the whole (not only Christian) world stopped for a while to watch the long-awaited event of the canonization of Mother Teresa. At a Roman Catholic canonization service held on the St. Peter’s Square in Vatican, in front of hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world, Pope Francis declared Mother Teresa a saint. There is no denying the fact that Mother Teresa was one of the most famous, respected, influential, and admired personalities of the 20th century, but to many people, she was known just as “a nun who helped the poor and sick.” It was her incredible charitable and missionary efforts that made her famous all over the world, but in fact, there are many more things about this inspirational woman that are worth remembering. To pay tribute to Mother Teresa, the latest Roman Catholic saint, we took a closer look at her remarkable life and compiled a list with some little known facts about this legendary nun and missionary. From interesting facts about her background and the miracles she is believed to have performed to her friendship with Princess Diana, here are 25 Fascinating Facts About Mother Teresa And Her Extraordinary Life.


Mother Teresa is also known as Saint Teresa of Calcutta, but her original name was Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu. The word “Anjeze” means "a little flower" in Albanian.

Mother TeresaSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: India 7 Network via flickr.com

Mother Teresa was born on 26 August 1910, but she later considered 27 August, the day she was baptized, to be her "true birthday."

Mother TeresaSource and image: en.wikipedia.org

For most of her life, Mother Teresa helped the poor. However, contrary to some popular beliefs, she herself was not born into a poor family. Her family was financially secured and owned two houses.

Mother Teresa houseSource: legacy.com, image: commons.wikimedia.org

Both of Mother Teresa's parents were Kosovo-Albanians, but she was born in Skopje, the current capital of Macedonia. Back in 1910, the city was a part of the Ottoman Empire.

SkopjeSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: commons.wikimedia.org

Mother Teresa spent most of her life in India, where she arrived in 1929, aged 19. She once said, "By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, I am an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”

Mother TeresaSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: youtube.com

Since her early childhood, Mother Teresa was fascinated by stories of the lives of missionaries and their service in India. By the age of 12, she become convinced that she should commit herself to a religious life.

Mother TeresaSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: ca.wikipedia.org

Prior to her move to India, Mother Teresa left for Ireland to learn English in 1928 (aged 18). After that, she never saw her mother or her sisters again.

Mother TeresaSource and image: en.wikipedia.org

She took her first religious vows as a nun in 1931, when she chose to be named after Therese de Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries, but because one nun in the convent had already chosen that name, she opted for the Spanish spelling of Teresa.

Therese de LisieuxSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: commons.wikimedia.org

In 1946, Mother Teresa received what she would later describe as a “call within a call.” She said Jesus spoke to her and told her to abandon her teaching to work in the slums of Calcutta aiding the city's poorest and sickest people.

slums of CalcuttaSource: thegospelcoalition.org, image: en.wikipedia.org

Four years later in 1950, she founded the Missionaries of Charity, a religious congregation, which in 2012 consisted of over 4,500 sisters and was active in 133 countries.

Missionaries of CharitySource: en.wikipedia.org, image: commons.wikimedia.org

While teaching poor children in Calcutta, Mother Teresa did not have any equipment or supplies, yet she still managed to teach the children to read and write by writing in the dirt with wooden sticks.

poor children in CalcuttaSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: pixabay.com

If you feel inspired by Mother Teresa and her life, you may also want to check out 25 Inspirational Mother Teresa Quotes.


In 1982, at the height of the Siege of Beirut, she rescued 37 children trapped in a front line hospital by brokering a temporary cease-fire between Israel and Palestine. Accompanied by Red Cross workers, she traveled through the war zone to the destroyed hospital to evacuate the young patients.

Siege of BeirutSource and image: en.wikipedia.org

When caring for the poor and sick in Calcutta's slums, Mother Teresa had no income, so she herself had to beg for food too.

beggerSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: Phil Warren via flickr.com

During her life, Mother Teresa received more than 120 honors and awards, including the 1962 Ramon Magsaysay Peace Prize and 1979 Nobel Peace Prize.

Mother TeresaSource and image: en.wikipedia.org

Mother Teresa said hundreds of inspirational quotes. “Do ordinary things with extraordinary love,” and “If you judge people, you have no time to love them” are among the most famous.

Mother TeresaSource: time.com, image: Celestine Chua via flickr.com

In Gallup's yearly poll, Americans voted Mother Teresa as one of the 10 most admirable women 18 times.

mother teresa statueSource: scoopwhoop.com, image: Dennis Jarvis via Flickr

Mother Teresa is believed to have performed at least two miracles during and after her life. In 1997, she healed Indian woman Monica Besra who suffered from a stomach tumor. In 2008, Brazilian man Marcilio Haddad Andrino recovered from multiple abscesses in his brain after he prayed to a relic of Mother Teresa.

Mother TeresaSource: indianexpress.com, image: en.wikipedia.org

Mother Teresa and Princess Diana were friends. During their last meeting in 1997, they prayed together, walking hand-in-hand through the streets of New York City. It was just a few weeks before they both died. Diana died in a tragic accident on 31 August, Teresa passed away 5 days later.

Mother Teresa and Princess DianaSource: eternitynews.com, image: royaldiana.tumblr.com

During her humanitarian missions, Mother Teresa suffered from numerous diseases and injuries. She had pneumonia, malaria, suffered two heart attacks, and even broke her collar bone.

Mother_Teresa_of_Calcuta_portrait_painting_by_Robert_Pérez_PalouSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: commons.wikimedia.org

After her death, Mother Teresa’s letters revealed that she spent almost 50 years in a crisis of faith, sometimes even doubting the existence of God. The crisis began around 1948, soon after she began serving the poor in Calcutta and lasted until her death in 1997.

Mother TeresaSource: legacy.com, image: en.wikipedia.org

Mother Teresa achieved incredible things and inspired millions of people all over the world during her life, but in fact, she was an extremely tiny and delicate person, standing just 152 cm (5 ft) tall.

Mother TeresaSource: celebriot.com, image: commons.wikimedia.org

India renamed the city of Calcutta to Kolkata in 2001 to match the Bengali pronunciation, but the church uses the spelling of Calcutta in its references to Mother Teresa.

KolkataSource: edition.cnn.com, image: en.wikipedia.org

After she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she refused the traditional Nobel honor banquet, instead requesting that the $192,000 budget be given to help the poor of India.

Mother Teresa peace prizeSource: india.com, image: mediacenter.dw.de via pinterest.com

Mother Teresa was fluent in five languages - Bengali, Albanian, Serbian, English, and Hindi. She also visited a number of countries during her humanitarian missions, including Mexico, Sri Lanka, Australia, Tanzania, and many more.

Mother TeresaSource: notablebiographies.com, image: Peta de Aztlan via flickr.com

Symbolically, Mother Teresa's canonization was attended by about 1,500 homeless people from across Italy who were transported and given seats of honor at the ceremony held in Vatican.

VaticanSource: edition.cnn.com, image: Jon Connell via flickr.com

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