In the Roman Catholic faith, the Rosary is traditionally prayed in reflection to three mysteries of the life and death of Jesus: Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious. The composition graphically expresses each of these. Mother Teresa’s smile expresses the joyful, her wrinkled skin and her squinting eyes, filtering the torrents of sad memories, project the sorrowful, and the praying hands entwined with the rosary defer the gloriousness to another Source.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta was one of the most revered people of the 20th century. She was born in Skopje, Albania in 1910 as Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, but would become familiarly known the world over as Mother Teresa.
At the tender age of eighteen, she left home for Ireland to join the Sisters of Loreto. There she learned English in advance of going to Darjeeling, India to train and prepare for missionary work. As a sister, she took the name Teresa after Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. She served as a teacher for nearly twenty years at the Loreto convent school in Calcutta, where she became headmistress in 1944.
In September 1946, Teresa returned to Darjeeling for an annual retreat. It was on this trip she received “the call within the call” as she would later put it. “I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them. It was an order. To fail would have been to break the faith.”
She soon began missionary work with the poor of Calcutta and in 1950 received permission from the Vatican for a new order called the Missionaries of Charity. Mother Teresa would grow the Missionaries of Charity over the course of five decades into a worldwide congregation active in 120 countries with of over 4,500 religious sisters and untold numbers of volunteers.
In 1979, Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize. Four years later she survived her first heart attack, marking the beginning of the cardiac problems that would plague her last years. In March of 1997, with her health continuing to grow weaker, Teresa stepped down from her leadership role with the Missionaries of Charity. She died six month later, on September 5. She was canonized on September 4, 2016.
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