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Mother Teresa Of Calcutta

The humble nun was the greatest humanitarian of the century

10/10/2016 4:57:11 PM
written By : Shobha Tsering Bhalla Print

If she wasn’t already the most well-known Indian icon, her canonisation last month has ensured she is firmly in pole position now. 

Early last month, Pope Francis proclaimed for veneration as a saint Mother Teresa, the humble nun from Calcutta whose work among the most destitute has earned her universal respect as the greatest humanitarian of the century. 

Mother Teresa’s canonisation is the ultimate recognition of this remarkable woman whom most Indians have revered as a “saint” for decades for her selfless work among the poorest of the poor.

As far back as August 2002, Mother Teresa, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, was voted the greatest Indian since the country’s independence in 1947. The survey by a leading magazine raised questions about how a non-Indian nun could outpoll the country’s leading politicians. 

She was the only one on the list not born an Indian, and led the tally in nearly every geographical zone, city and age group surveyed. It did not include the leader of India’s non-violent freedom struggle, Mahatma Gandhi, because the magazine decided ‘to keep the father of the nation above a voting process’.

Admiration for the Catholic nun, whose devotion to the poor for decades has inspired the world, transcends race, colour, creed and class.

Indeed, from the villages of Africa and India to the White House and the Kremlin, Mother Teresa was revered.

Her official biographer Navin Chawla describes the humble nun born of Albanian parents as “the most powerful woman in the world”, and recollects how former United States President Ronald Reagan telephoned her personally to promise aid to Ethiopia’s poor.

Mother Teresa who was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on August 26, 1910, in Skjopje, Albania later became a naturalised Indian and died in Calcutta in 1997. At age 18, she joined the Sisters of Loreto, taking the name Sister Mary Teresa after Saint Therese of Lisieux.

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