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Who was Mother Teresa?

Mother Teresa has been elevated to sainthood in an elaborate ceremony at the Vatican. Photograph: (Reuters)

Vatican City Sep 04, 2016, 09.10 AM (IST)
Mother Teresa, an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary, has been elevated to sainthood today in a Vatican ceremony about two decades after her death. 

Tens of thousands of people gathered at St Peter's Square to see Pope Francis lead the ceremony.

In the eastern Indian city of Kolkata where she spent more than four decades working for the 'poorest of poor', people also gathered in huge numbers at Mother House to attend a special mass. 

Here are some key facts about the 'Saint of Gutters' 
  • She was born on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, now the capital of Macedonia, to ethnic Albanian parents who named her Gonxha Agnes Bojaxhiu. Her father, involved in byzantine politics, died when she was just eight. 
  • According to biographers, Agnes was a regular visitor to Catholic shrines by the time she was 12. She became a nun at the age of 16. 
  • Mother Teresa moved to erstwhile Calcutta, now known as Kolkata, in early 1929 where she became a teacher and 15 years later became the headmistress at a convent school. 
  • She was granted Indian citizenship in 1951, five years after she got a 'call from within' to found the 'Missionaries of Charity' that officially became a religious organisation in 1950. 
  • In 1952, she set up a home for the dying and set up her first mobile leporacy clinic in 1957. After working dedicatedly for three years, she went to United States for the first time in 1960 to address National Council of Catholic Women. 
  • Her religious order was granted the Decree of Praise, bringing it directly under Vatican jurisdiction. That same year the first Missionaries of Charity house outside India was founded, in Venezuela. Others later opened in Italy, Tanzania, Australia and the United States.
  • She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for  her work for the world's destitute in 1979. 
  • Her health declined in the following years but she continued to work. 
  • She was succeeded by  Sister Nirmala, a former Hindu who converted to Roman Catholicism in March 1997. 
  • On September 5, 1997, Mother Teresa died of a heart attack at her order's headquarters in Kolkata. An array of world dignitaries attended her funeral.
On her death in 1997, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II predicted Teresa would "continue to live on in the hearts of all those who have been touched by her selfless love."

While millions acclaimed her as an icon of Christain clarity and a global symbol of anti-materialism and worthwhile self-sacrifice, she was also labelled as "a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud" by British author Christopher Hitchens. 

(With inputs from AFP, Reuters) 
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