A reason to smile, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (1910-1997), Mother Teresa of Calcutta, was born in Skopje, the capital of what is now the Republic of Macedonia.
The daughter of a wealthy Albanian construction contractor, she entered the Roman Catholic Sisters of Loreto order at the age of 17.
"Intense love does not measure; it just gives," she once said.
The young novice took the name "Teresa" after Saint Theresa, the patron saint of missionaries, and went to work in Calcutta, India.
In 1950, heeding "the call within a call," she founded the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, dedicated to helping the poorest of the poor, whom Mother Teresa described as the embodiment of Christ.
Her work, a network of 350 missions, spread hope and inspired the world. "The biggest disease today," she explained, "is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted."
In serving the poor, she embraced all religions and called for Christians, Hindus, and Muslims to live together in love.
In a 1974 interview, this soft-spoken angel of mercy said, "I see God in every human being. When I wash the leper's wounds, I feel I am nursing the Lord himself. Is it not a beautiful experience?"
A symbol of compassion and the spark of good found in every soul, she accepted the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize in the name of the "unwanted, unloved and uncared for."
When asked how to promote world peace, she answered, "Go home and love your family."
Beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003, Mother Teresa was given the title "Blessed Teresa of Calcutta." Her nuns and priests continue her work throughout the world.
"Be faithful in small things," she said. "Because it is in them that your strength lies."
More Mother Teresa Quotations
The gift of a smile transforms the receiver...and giver.