She was born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu in what has become Skopje, North Macedonia, 26 August 1910, her family being of Albanian descent. Her parents were pious and practiced acts of charity. Her father died when she was 9. Aged 12, she felt that she should serve God and at 18 she joined the Sisters of Loreto near Dublin. After a few months training she was sent to India and took her initial vows as a nun in 1931, choosing her name after Thérèse de Lisieux.
From 1931 to 1948 she taught in Darjeeling then quickly in Calcutta, being appointed headmistress in 1944. But the suffering and poverty that she was seeing outside the convent upset her and she experienced "the call within the call" in 1946: "I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them. It was an order.". In 1948 she was allowed to leave the convent-school and to devote herself to working among the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta. She became their Mother.
She got basic medical training and depending on Divine Providence, she started an open-air school for slum children and within a year she was joined by voluntary helpers and managed to get some financial support. In 1950, she received permission from the Holy See to start her own order, "The Missionaries of Charity", whose primary task was to love and care for those persons nobody was prepared to look after.
In 1952, Mother Teresa opened her first hospice with help from Calcutta officials. She wanted to help the people who are about to die, so that they do not die with no one at their side, irrespective of their religion but in accordance with their faith. As of 1955 she also took care of lepers and opened an orphanage.
The congregation kept on growing and opened hospices, orphanages and leper houses throughout India, and later in other countries. Mother Teresa
received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and made a few humanitarian trips: to Lebanon at the height of the war, to Armenia after the 1988 earthquake,
Her health started to decline but she continued her action until the day of her death, 6 September 1997. She received a state funeral from the Indian government in gratitude for her service to the poor of all religions. She was beatified by John Paul II in 2003 and canonised by Pope Francis in 2016.
The order has several branches and is active in many countries in Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, South and Central America but also in rich countries for the homeless and the sick: there are 600 missions, schools and shelters in 120 countries.