Saint of the Day for 05 September: St Teresa of Calcutta
St Teresa of Calcutta: the story of the woman who dedicated her life to the poor
Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu
26 August 1910, Skopje, North Macedonia
05 September 1997, Calcutta, India
19 October 2003, Rome, Pope John Paul II
04 September 2016, Rome, Pope Francis
O Saint Teresa of Calcutta, in your yearning to love Jesus as He has never been loved before, you gave yourself totally to Him, never refusing Him anything. In union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, you accepted the call to satiate His infinite thirst for love and souls and to become a bearer of His love among the poor. With loving trust and total abandonment you did His will. You became so intimately united to Jesus, your crucified Bridegroom, that He, suspended on the cross, deigned to share with you the agony of His Heart. Saint Teresa, you who promised to bring the light of love to those on earth, pray that we too may wish to quench the burning thirst of Jesus with passionate love, sharing His sufferings with joy, and serving Him wholeheartedly in our brothers and sisters, especially in those who, more than anyone else, are “unloved” and “unwanted”. Amen.
Patron Saint of
Colli al Metauro
In Calcutta, India, Blessed Teresa (Agnes) Gonhxa Bojaxhiu, a virgin, who, born in Albania, quenched the thirst of Christ abandoned on the cross with her immense charity towards her poorest brothers and sisters and established the Congregations of the Missionaries of Charity at the full service of the sick and dispossessed.
The Saint and Mission
St Teresa of Calcutta is one of the most iconic figures when it comes to ‘mission’ in the context of Christian life. Her name is synonymous with radical altruism and unconditional commitment to the poorest of the poor. But his mission was not only to provide food, shelter and medical care. It was, above all, a mission of love and dignity, a living testimony of Christ’s love for all, regardless of their origin, religion or social status.
What makes his mission so extraordinary is the absolute simplicity with which he carried it out. There was nothing complex or elaborate in his way of helping others; on the contrary, it was the sheer act of seeing Christ in every person he met and serving that person as he would serve Christ himself. This incarnational vision of the Gospel is what made her mission not only effective, but also profoundly transforming for all those who came into contact with her or her works.
St Teresa teaches us that mission is not a task to be done, but a way of being in the world. It is not just about doing good works, but about becoming a ‘good work’ through which God’s grace can flow freely. Her mission was a direct result of her deep prayer life and intimate union with Christ, which enabled her to see and respond to the needs of others with a compassionate and merciful heart.
In an increasingly divided and polarised world, St Teresa of Calcutta’s mission remains a beacon of hope and a model of that Christian charity that sees beyond cultural, social and religious barriers to recognise the inherent dignity of every human being. Her life and ministry are a powerful testimony to the fact that true mission begins and ends in love: a love that knows how to lower itself in order to lift others up, that knows how to renounce self in order to embrace neighbour, that knows how to see in the face of the other the very face of God.
The Saint and Mercy
St Teresa of Calcutta is one of the most powerful figures when it comes to embodied mercy. Her life was a continuous act of mercy towards the marginalised, the sick and the dying. In the poorest neighbourhoods of Calcutta, he created an oasis of compassion and dignity, where people often forgotten by society could find love, acceptance and, in many cases, a dignified death.
Mercy, in her case, was not an abstract theological principle, but a tangible reality expressed through concrete actions. It was mercy that washed the wounds of lepers, fed the hungry and comforted the dying. In every gesture and word, St Teresa was the outstretched hand of God, a channel through which divine mercy could reach suffering hearts.
But her mercy was not only physical; it was also spiritual. Welcoming everyone, regardless of their faith or cultural background, he embodied a love that transcended all divisions. He demonstrated that mercy is the very essence of God, a force that can transform not only individual lives, but entire communities. She touched not only sick bodies but also wounded spirits, bringing hope where there was despair and light where there was darkness.
St Teresa of Calcutta taught that mercy is not an occasional act or a duty to be performed, but a way of life. Her mercy was radical because it came from a deep intimacy with God, an intimacy forged in prayer and nourished by faith. And precisely because it was so deeply rooted in God, his mercy knew no bounds; it was an unconditional mercy, capable of embracing all, especially those the world finds most difficult to love.
At a time when mercy is often seen as a sign of weakness or as one option among many, St Teresa’s life reminds us that mercy is at the heart of the Christian message. It is the key to understanding who God is and what it means to be truly human. In her example, we see that mercy is the most revolutionary action we can take, an ongoing challenge to look beyond ourselves to see the face of Christ in others and to become, like her, ‘God-bearers’ in a world that so badly needs His loving mercy.
Missionaries of Charity
The Missionaries of Charity are an extraordinary example of how the mission of mercy can be lived out in a concrete and transforming way. Founded by St Teresa of Calcutta in 1950, this religious congregation of women has dedicated its existence to the service of the ‘poorest of the poor’. Their mission is not just an act of charity, but a real commitment to see the face of Christ in everyone and to serve him through the hands and hearts of the sisters.
The Missionaries of Charity embody mercy not only through words but through specific and tangible actions: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick and offering love and compassion to those rejected by society. Their presence is a powerful symbol of hope and unconditional love, and is a beacon of light in the darkest parts of our world.
The congregation also represents a kind of ‘revolution of tenderness’, in the words of Pope Francis. These are women who have chosen to live in extreme poverty in solidarity with those they help, thus entering into a relationship of true brotherhood with the less fortunate. Their vocation is a constant reminder that mercy is not an isolated act or a nice sentiment, but a way of life that requires sacrifice, commitment and a love that goes beyond all borders and barriers.
In an increasingly divided and selfish world, the Missionaries of Charity offer an alternative vision, rooted in the love of Christ and the transforming power of mercy. Their work, spread across more than 130 countries, is not just an immediate relief for those in need, but a lasting sign of God’s presence in our midst, calling us all to greater responsibility towards the most vulnerable.
The congregation continues to inspire generations of men and women, lay and religious, to take part in this mission of mercy, demonstrating that love is the only means to combat injustice and create a more just and fraternal world. Through their example, we see how mercy can indeed be the answer to the many evils afflicting humanity today.
She was born to Sinibaldo, lord of Quisquina and descendant of King Charlemagne. The parents took care to educate the girl in Christian principles. And little Rosalie corresponded to her parents’ care. She devotedly attended to pious practices, tenderly loved the Virgin Mary, and…