Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, the future Mother Teresa, was born on 26 August 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia, to Albanian heritage. Her father, a well-respected local businessman, died when she was eight years old, leaving her mother, a devoutly religious woman, to open an embroidery and cloth business to support the family. After spending her adolescence deeply involved in parish activities, Agnes left home in September 1928, for the Loreto Convent in Rathfarnam (Dublin), Ireland, where she was admitted as a postulant on October 12 and received the name of Teresa, after her patroness, St. Therese of Lisieux.
Agnes was sent by the Loreto order to India and arrived in Calcutta on 6 January 1929. Upon her arrival, she joined the Loreto novitiate in Darjeeling. She made her final profession as a Loreto nun on 24 May 1937, and hereafter was called Mother Teresa. While living in Calcutta during the 1930s and '40s, she taught in St. Mary's Bengali Medium School.
Working in Calcutta at a time of food rationing, she succumbed to tuberculosis and returned to Darjeeling for rest and recovery. It was on the DHR train journey up to Darjeeling on 10th September 1946 that she received what she termed the ‘call within a call’ which was to give rise to the Missionaries of Charity family of Sisters, Brothers, Fathers and Co-workers, her lifetime of work for the poor and destitute in the slums of Calcutta. The content of this inspiration is revealed in the aim and mission she would give to her new institute: "to quench the infinite thirst of Jesus on the cross for the love and souls" by "labouring at the salvation and sanctification of the poorest of the poor".
From the 1980s through the 1990s, despite increasing health problems, Mother Teresa travelled across the world founding new mission houses and communities of service to the poor and disaster-stricken. By 1997, the Sisters numbered nearly 4,000 members, and were established in almost 600 foundations in 123 countries of the world.
After a summer of travelling to Rome, New York, and Washington, in a weak state of health, Mother Teresa returned to Calcutta in July 1997 and died on 5 September. Hundreds of thousands of people from all classes and all religions, from India and abroad, paid their respects. She received a state funeral on 13 September, her body being taken in procession - on a gun carriage that had also borne the bodies of Mohandas K. Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru - through the streets of Calcutta. Presidents, prime ministers, queens, and special envoys were present on behalf of countries from all over the world.