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Published Date: March 30, 2015

Published Date: March 30, 2015

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Women’s History Month: The 20th Century

Saint Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception

Sister Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception, also known as Anna Muttathupadathu, was born in 1910 in Kerala, India. After experiencing the loss of her mother at a young age and then refusing pressure from her aunt to marry and become a housewife, Alphonsamma, as she was called locally, joined a convent at age seventeen.

She completed her schooling through the Catholic Church, became a Franciscan nun, and taught at a girls’ high school. Her life as a teacher and sister was cut short as she suffered from multiple injuries and illnesses which lead to her death in 1946. Despite going through great pain, she remained faithful to God and became the first native Indian to be honored as a saint.

At a ceremony to announce her canonization in October 2008, Pope Benedict XVI stated, “(Her) heroic virtues of patience, fortitude, and perseverance in the midst of deep suffering remind us that God always provides the strength we need to overcome every trial.”

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa was born on August 26, 1910 in what is present day Macedonia and was baptized Gonxha Agnes on August 27, the day she considers to be her true birthday. When she was 18, she traveled to Ireland for more schooling with the dream of becoming a missionary. She was there for a little over a year, during which time she was given the name Sister Mary Teresa.

In 1929 she left for Calcutta, India to live in the Loreto Entally community. There she taught at St. Mary’s School for girls, became known as Mother Teresa, and earned a reputation for her great love, leadership, and joy in the Lord. After almost twenty years of service in Loreto she felt God calling her to start Missionaries of Charity, a community that would love on the poorest of poor while living among them. For almost 50 years she expanded her ministry all over the world by sending people out and building more charities and community houses.

According to the Mother Teresa of Calcutta Center, “Mother Teresa’s sisters numbered nearly 4,000 and were established in 610 foundations in 123 countries.” It is no wonder she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, among many other rewards, and gained respect and admiration from people of all cultures and faiths. She died and was buried in Calcutta in September of 1997. In the words of “Mother,” as those who served with her would call her, “What I can do, you cannot. What you can do, I cannot. But together we can do something beautiful for God.”

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