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Mother Teresa's Road to Sainthood
A look back at the life of the world's most famous nun, Mother Teresa, who dedicated her life to helping the poor and destitute.
On Sunday, Sept. 4, the eve of the 19th anniversary of her death, Mother Teresa's sanctity will be sealed with a canonization Mass led by Pope Francis at the Vatican.
Above: Mother Teresa was born to ethnic Albanian parents on Aug. 26, 1910 in Skopje, now the capital of Macedonia, and named Gonxha Agnes Bojaxhiu.
Deeply religious, she became a nun at the age of 16, joining the Loreto abbey in Ireland. Two years later she was given the name Sister Teresa. In early 1929 she moved to Calcutta, now known as Kolkata, where she became a teacher and, 15 years on, headmistress at a convent school.
In 1946 she received "a call within a call" to found the Missionaries of Charity, officially established as a religious congregation in 1950. Nuns of the order began calling her Mother Teresa. The Indian government granted her citizenship in 1951. The following year Mother Teresa opened her first home for the dying, and in 1957 her first mobile leprosy clinic. She worked for three decades in India before leaving for the first time in 1960, going to the United States to address the National Council of Catholic Women.
Mother Teresa hugs a child on Aug. 14, 1982, as she visits children in the Islamic Home which was shelled during the Israeli attacks on West Beirut.
In 1979 Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work for the world's destitute. "I am unworthy," she said. Despite declining health, including arthritis, failing eyesight and heart problems, she continued to work. Pope John Paul granted her request to open a shelter for vagrants inside the walls of the Vatican. In 1988 she opened her first communities in the former Soviet Union.
Nuns gather around the body of Mother Teresa.
Mother Teresa's Canonization: Controversy Mars Nun's Work