Mother Teresa's "Home for the Sick and Dying Destitutes" in a Hindu temple to the goddess Kali

Mother Teresa

Kalighat, the Home of the Pure Heart (Nirmal Hriday) (formerly Mother Teresa's Kalighat Home for the Sick and Dying Destitutes) is a hospice for the sick, destitute and the dying established by St. Mother Teresa in Kalighat, Kolkata, India. Before Mother Teresa sought permission to use it, the building was an old Hindu temple to the goddess Kali, the Hindu goddess of time and change. It was founded by St. Mother Teresa on her 42nd birthday in 1952, two years after she established Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata.

St. Mother Teresa opened this free hospice in 1952, next to the famous Kalighat Kali Temple in Kalighat Calcutta. With the help of Indian officials, she changed an abandoned building which previously served as a temple for the Hindu goddess Kali into the "Kalighat home for the dying", a free hospice for the poor. Later on she changed the name to "Kalighat the Home of the Pure Heart (Nirmal Hriday)".

Kalighat Home for the Sick and Dying Destitutes.

People who were brought to the home received medical attention from the Missionaries of Charity and were given the opportunity to die with dignity, according to the rituals of their faith; Muslims were read the Quran, Hindus received water from the Ganges, and Catholics received the Last Rites. "A beautiful death," she said, "is for people who lived like animals to die like angels—loved and wanted."

Peace begins with a Smile...

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa was once living in a small house in Calcutta along with some orphans. One day it so happened that there was nothing for the children to eat. Mother Teresa did not know what to do.

Mother Teresa called all the children and said, “Come children today we have nothing to eat in the house. But, if we pray to God he will surely give.” After ten minutes of prayer, Mother Teresa said to the children “Come, now let us go and beg." So they all went to beg.

In the neighborhood of Mother Theresa, there was one shop keeper who hated Mother Teresa. Mother went to him and said “Please, give something to eat.”

The person looked at Mother Teresa with anger and spit saliva on Mother Teresa's hand. Mother gently wiped the saliva to her sari and said, “Thank you for what you have given for me. Will you give something for my children?”

The shop keeper was shocked at the humility of Mother Teresa asked pardon from Mother Teresa. Then on he began to help regularly to the orphan children.

Peace begins with a smile...

Parents, Prepare the Child for the Road

Nikolle Bojaxhiu, Father of Mother Teresa

Nikolle Bojaxhiu was an active Albanian rights activist, businessman and the father of Mother Teresa. He married Dranafile Bernai with whom he had three children: Aga (b. 1905), Lazar (b. 1908) and Agnes (b. 1910), with Agnes became Mother Teresa. On the day of the Albanian Declaration of Independence from the Ottoman Empire on 28th November 1912, he hosted a meeting that was attended by famous Albanian leaders.

After the incorporation of his native region into Serbia during World War-1, Bojaxhiu joined various Albanian rights political organizations. He died in 1919, a few hours after he returned from a political meeting in Belgrade. Several biographers have attributed his death to poisoning by Serbian agents. His son Lazar considered the theory of poisoning to be a certainty, while his daughter Agnes (Mother Teresa) described it as unconfirmed.

His funeral process was attended by large numbers of people and representative of all the religious communities. As a sign of respect, that day all school children were given dedicatory handkerchiefs. After his death, his business partner appropriated the entirety of their companies' assets and left nothing to his widow and offspring.

Mother Teres’s father was a rights activist who fought against injustice in the society. He was also the only Catholic to be elected to the city council of Skopje. It is sure that the young Agnes got inspired from his father, traveled thousands of kilometers and fought against hunger of the deserted and oppressed people in India & other courtiers. Mother Teresa had said: “By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the heart of Jesus.

The Call within Call

Agnes Bojaxhiu, the then Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa was born in 1910 into a Albanian family in the Republic of Macedonia. Teresa's mother had a special kind of love for women in distress. Teresa’s father was an active Albanian rights activist, who fought against injustice in the society. He died in 1919 when she was eight years old.

As a young girl, her imagination was stirred by stories of Yugoslav Jesuit priests who worked in distant Bengal. Teresa left home in 1928 at age 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto with the view of becoming a missionary in India. She never saw her mother or her sister again. She left her family for a most uncertain future in a land of whose language, customs and traditions she knew nothing. But young Teresa never recorded any doubts about this decision, even in her later years.

In her 20 years as a Loreto nun, first a teacher and later Principal, her life was regulated by the ringing of the school bell. The world she glimpsed from her classroom window was made up of slums and abject poverty: it seemed to be the real world, and she slowly sensed that her vocation belonged there.

She was increasingly disturbed by the poverty surrounding her in Calcutta. The Bengal famine of 1943 brought misery and death to the city, and the August 1946 Direct Action Day began a period of Muslim-Hindu violence.

The call within the call

On 10 September 1946, Teresa experienced what she later described as "the call within the call" when she travelled by train to the Loreto convent in Darjeeling from Calcutta for her annual retreat. "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”. Though no one knew it at the time, Sister Teresa had just become Mother Teresa.

She began missionary work with the poor in 1948, replacing her traditional Loreto habit with a simple, white cotton sari with a blue border. She was alone. She had no helper, no companion and carried no money to speak of. She stepped into a city in which she had taught long years but of which she knew nothing. She taught herself to beg.

Teresa adopted Indian citizenship, spent several months in Patna to receive basic medical training at Holy Family Hospital and ventured into the slums. She set up her first school in the very slum she saw each morning outside her classroom.

It had no classroom, no table, no chair, no blackboard. She picked up a stick and before a group of curious children who had never seen the inside of a school, she began to write the Bengali alphabet on the ground. Within a few days, some rickety furniture appeared; someone donated a blackboard and chalk. Lay teachers from the Convent soon volunteered to teach. Her little school in Motijhil became reality. A tiny dispensary followed, stocked with a few basic medicines. Her disarming charm and directness moved people to want to help her.