Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Macedonia, on August 26, 1910. After receiving a call to be a missionary at age 12, she left home at 18 and joined the Sisters of Loreto in India and took her initial vows in 1931. After 17 years teaching in Calcutta, she received permission to devote herself to working with the poor in the slums.
In 1950, Mother Teresa received permission from the Holy See to start her own order, The Missionaries of Charity, to care for the poorest of the poor. Today, there are more than 4,500 sisters who are members the Missionaries of Charity all over the world, as well as affiliated lay and clergy divisions.
Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003. On Sept. 4, 2016, she was officially canonized as a Roman Catholic saint by Pope Francis in a ceremony at the Vatican.
The Cathedral’s figure of Mother Teresa, sculpted by Chas Fagan and carved in place by Cathedral stonecarver Sean Callahan, completes a set of carvings set on either side of the archway over a portal with a companion carving of Rosa Parks. The Human Rights Porch has been dedicated to “individuals who have taken significant, profound, and life-changing actions in the fight for human rights, social justice, civil rights, and the welfare of other human beings.”
As then-Dean Gary Hall said at the 2012 dedication, “Mother Teresa’s service to the poorest of the poor recognized the dignity of every human being. Rosa Parks emphasized that, with that dignity, must come equal rights. It’s only fitting that they look across from each other now, as part of a doorway through which we all must pass.”