Gonxha Agnes was born on 26 August 1910 in Skopje, Macedonia. Her father, Nikola Bojaxhiu, died when she was about eight years old. He left the family in a difficult financial situation.
At the age of eighteen, Gonxha followed her missionary vocation and joined the Institute of the Virgin Mary, known as the Sisters of Loreto, in Ireland. There she took the name Sister Mary Teresa, after Saint Therese of Lisieux. In December, she left for India and arrived in Calcutta on 6 January 1929. After taking her first vows in May 1931, Sister Teresa was sent to the Loretto Entally community in Calcutta and taught in a girls' school. In 1944, she became the headmistress of the school.
On 10 September 1946, on her way to her annual retreat in Darjeeling, Sister Teresa found her "inspiration" on the train. Following her visions, she went to work for the poorest people and founded a religious community, the Missionaries of Charity. On 17 August 1948, she dressed for the first time in her white sari, edged in blue, and left her convent to enter the world of the poorest.
Sister Teresa returned to the slums of Calcutta. On 7 October 1950, the new congregation of the Missionaries of Charity was officially established in the Archdiocese of Calcutta. From then on, the nun was known as Mother Teresa. In the early 1960s, Mother Teresa began to send her sisters to other parts of India. Pope Paul VI's approval in February 1965 encouraged her to open houses on all continents.
Mother Teresa received many awards for her work, beginning with the Indian Padmashri Prize in 1962 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, as the media began to follow her activities with growing interest.
In the last years of her life, despite serious health problems, Mother Teresa continued to manage her congregation and to respond to the needs of the poor and the Church. In 1997, Mother Teresa's sisters numbered about 4,000 and worked in 610 foundations in 123 countries. On 5 September 1997, Mother Teresa, a symbol of compassion and selflessness, passed away at the age of 87.