A Brief History of Calcutta


Three Famous Calcuttans


Rabindranath Tagore

Swami Vivekananda

Mother Teresa

Although the name Kalikata had been mentioned in the rent-roll of the Great Mughal emperor Akbar and also in Manasa-Mangal, to explore the history of Calcutta, we have to go back to the 17th century. It was in 1690....Job Charnock came on the bank of the river Hooghly (it's the part of the Ganges) and took the lease of three large villages along the east bank of the river - Sutanuti, Govindapur and Kolikata (Calcutta) as a trading post of British East India Company. The site was carefully selected, being protected by the Hooghly River on the west, a creek to the north, and by salt lakes about two and a half miles on the east. These three villages were bought by the British from local landlords. The Mughal emperor granted East India Company freedom of trade in return for a yearly payment of 3,000 rupees.

Before the British came Calcutta was just a village, the capital city of Bengal was Murshidabad, about 60 miles north of Calcutta. In 1756, Siraj-ud-daullah, nawab of Bengal, attacked the city and captured the fort. Calcutta was recaptured in 1757 by Robert Clive when the British defeated Siraj-ud-daullah on the battlefield of Plassey and recaptured the city. Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General of India, made it the seat of the supreme courts of justice and the supreme revenue administration, and Calcutta became the capital of British India in 1772. All important offices were subsequently moved from Murshidabad to Calcutta. By 1800 Calcutta had become a busy and flourishing town, the centre of the cultural as well as the political and economic life of Bengal.

Calcutta became the centre of all cultural and political movements in entire India. The 19th century Renaissance and Reformation in India was pioneered in this city. Raja Rammohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda, Rabindra Nath Tagore, Jagadish Chandra Bose, Satyendra Nath Bose (co-author of Bose-Einstein Theory) and many more eminent personalities enhanced the cultural heritage of the city of Calcutta.

Till 1912, Calcutta was the capital of India, when the British moved the capital city to Delhi. In 1947, when India gained freedom and the country got partitioned between India and Pakistan, Calcutta was included in the Indian part of Bengal, West Bengal. Calcutta became the capital city of the state of West Bengal.


A Brief History Of Calcutta

Writers Building in British time

Writers Buildings in British era

Howrah Bridge - old

Howrah Bridge - old

Old Court House Street in old days

Old Court House Street

High Court in old days

Calcutta High Court

Great Eastern Hotel - in old days

Great Eastern Hotel

Standard Chartered Bank - in old days

Standard Chartered Bank

The Statesman Office - in old days

The Statesman Office

  • 1690 August, Job Charnok, an agent of East India Company (established 1600) settles in Calcutta.

  • 1698 East India Co. bought three villages (Sutanuti, Kolkata, Gobindapur ) from local landlord Sabarna Chowdhury.

  • 1699 East India Company started developing Calcutta as a Presidency city.

  • 1715 British people completed building the Old Fort.

  • 1717 The Mughal emperor Farrukh-siyar granted the East India Company freedom of trade in return for a yearly payment of 3,000 rupees.

  • 1727 As per the order of King George I , a civil court was set up. The city corporation was established and Hallwell became the first mayor of the city.

  • 1756 Siraj-ud-daulla attacks Calcutta and conquered. He changed the name of the city to Alinagar.

  • 1757 23rd June, British people ( under the leadership of Clive) defeated Siraj-id-daulla at Plassey. Calcutta was subsequently recaptured the.

  • 1757 British first printed currency bill in Calcutta mint.

  • 1765 Clive took Bengal, Bihar and Orissa from Badsha Alam II ( Delhi) with an agreement of paying excises.

  • 1772 Calcutta became the capital of British India when the first governor-general, Warren Hastings, transferred all important offices to the city from Murshidabad.

  • 1780 James Hicky established a printing press and published first news paper, "The Bengal Gazzette".

  • 1784 The first official news paper , "The Calcutta Gazzette", was published.

  • 1784 Sir William Jones took initiative and established The Asiatic Society.

  • 1801 Fort William College was established.

  • 1804 The Governor House ( presently Raj Bhawan ) was built.

  • 1818 First Bengali Magazine, "Digdarshan", was published from Sreerampur, with the help of David Hare.

  • 1817 The Hindu College ( presently Presidency College ) was established with efforts of Rammohan Roy, David Hare and Radhakanta Dev. Initially started with 20 students.

  • 1829 Rammohan Roy was successful in making 'satidaho' (a Hindu practice) banned by British General Bentinck.

  • 1854 First Railways in India ( from Calcutta to Hooghly ).

  • 1857 The University of Calcutta was established.

  • 1873 First Tram car ( horse drawn ) in Calcutta.

  • 1875 "The Statesman", leading English Daily newspaper, started.

  • 1875 The Indian Museum was built.

  • 1883 Surendra Nath Banerjee called for a National convention ( which led to the forming of Indian National Congress in 1885 at Bombay ).

  • 1888 Indian Football Association established.

  • 1896 First motor car appeared on city's street.

  • 1902 First Electric tram car from Esplanade to Kidderepore.

  • 1905 Lord Curzon, viceroy of India, tried to partition Bengal. There was a strong protest. And finally it was withdrawn.

  • 1911 British moved the capital of India from Calcutta to Delhi

  • 1913 Rabindranath Tagore, the great philosopher, poet and writer received Nobel Prize in literature.

  • 1921 King Edward VIII inaugurated the Victoria Memorial building.

  • 1924 Chittaranjan Das, was elected as the first Indian mayor of the city of Calcutta.

  • 1929 Agnes Gonxha Bejaxhiu (Mother Teresa), came to Calcutta to join Bengal Loreto mission.

  • 1941 Tagore died.

  • 1946 Communal riot killed thousands of people in and around the city.

  • 1947 India gained independence. Bengal was partitioned, Calcutta became the capital city of the state of West Bengal in India. Dr. Prafulla Chandra Ghosh became the first Chief Minister of West Bengal, followed by Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy. Calcutta and surrounding places were flooded with people from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) as a result of the partition.

  • 1977 Left Front led by CPI(M) Party won the state election and came into the power of the state Government. It is continuing in power for a record stretch of time. 

  • 1979 Mother Teresa was awarded Nobel Peace Prize.

  • 1984 Metro Railway, the first underground railway in India, started from Tollygunge to Esplanade.

  • 1989 Late Satyajit Ray, eminent film director received Legion d'Honour, the highest civilian award of France from President F. Mitterrand in Calcutta.

  • 1992 Satyajit Ray received prestigious Oscar award for "Life Time Achievement" and "Bharat Ratna". He died in the same year.

  • 1997 Mother Teresa died in Calcutta.

  • 1998 Amartya Sen (grew up in Shantiniketan and studied at Calcutta) received Nobel Prize in Ecomonics

  • 2001 Calcutta was officially renamed as 'Kolkata'.



Rabindranath Tagore [1861-1941]

Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel laureate poet, writer, philosopher was the ambassador of Indian culture to the rest of the world. He is probably the most prominent figure in the cultural world of Indian subcontinent and the first Asian to be awarded with Nobel prize. Even though he is mainly known as a poet, his multifaceted talent showered upon different branches of art, such as, novels, short stories, dramas, articles, essays, painting etc. And his songs, popularly known as Rabindrasangeet, have an eternal appeal and is permanently placed in the heart of the Bengalis. He was a social reformer, patriot and above all, a great humanitarian and philosopher. India and Bangladesh - the national anthems of these two countries are his composition.

Tagore was born on Tuesday, 7th May 1861 in a wealthy family in Calcutta at 6, Dwarakanath Thakur Lane, Calcutta. He was son of Debenadranath and Sarada Devi and the grand son of Dwarakanath Tagore, a rich landlord and social reformer. He could not cope with the conventional system of education and started study at home under several teachers.  He translated a part of Shakespare's Macbeth into Bengali verse which was later published in Bharati magazine. His first book of poems, Kabi Kahini ( tale of a poet ) was published in 1878. In the same year, he sailed to England with his brother Satyandranath. He got admitted into the University College in England and started studying under Prof Henry Morley. Retuned to India in 1880.Got married to Bhabatarini Devi in 1883 at the age of 22. Later her name was changed to Mrinalini Devi. By this time he had already been established as a leading writer of Bengali literature.
In 1890 Tagore attended session of Indian National Congress and on the opening day sang Vandemataram composed by Bankim Chandra Chattapadhayay, the exponent of novel in Bengali literature. In 1901 he took the editorial charge of the magazine Bangadarshan. Got involved with freedom fighting movement.  Established Bolpur Bramhacharyaashram at Shantiniketan, a school in the pattern of old Indian Ashrama. He strongly protested Lord Curzon's decision to divide Bengal on the basis of religion. Wrote a number of national songs and attended protest meetings. He introduced the Rakhibandhan ceremony , symbolizing the underlying unity in undivided Bengal. In 1909 started writing Gitanjali at Silaidaha. Composed Janaganamana in 1911 which later became the national anthem of India. 
In 1912 went to Europe for the second time. On his journey to London he translated into English some of his poems/songs from Gitanjali. He met William Rothenstein, a noted British painter, in London. Earlier he was introduced to Rothenstein in Calcutta at a gathering at  Abanindranath Tagore's house before. Rothenstien was impressed by the poems, made copies and gave to Yeats and other English poets. He arranged a reading in his house where Yeats read Tagore's poems in front of a distinguished audience comprising of Ezra Pound, May Sinclair, Ernest Rhys etc. Tagore sailed for America ( for the first time ) from England. Reached New York, came to Urbana, Illinois, gave a lecture and went to Chicago. In the mean time  Gitanjali ( song offerings ) containing 103 translated poems of Tagore was published in London. Yeats wrote the introduction for this book and Rothenstein did a pencil sketch for the cover page. The book created a sensation in the English literary world. Tagore delivered lectures in Rochester, Boston, Harvard University. Ezra Pound's "Poetry" Magazine published from Chicago had the honor of publishing the first English poem of Tagore. His six Gitanjali poems appeared in Poetry in December, 1912 issue. The poet returned to Calcutta. 13th November, 1913, Indians came to know that the Nobel prize for literature had been awarded to Tagore for Gitanjali. On 26th Decemeber, University of Calcutta conferred on him the honorary degree of "D.Litt.". Received Knighthood in 1915. 
Proceeded to Japan in 1916. On his way gave speeches at Rangoon, Singapore, Hongkong. In September, 1916 got invitation from different institutions in USA and reached Seattle ( Washington). Lectured at Portland, San Fransisco, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Salt Lake City, Chicago, Iowa, Milwakee, Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Boston. At Columbia Theatre, New York read translation from his novel Raja. Returned to Calcutta in 1917. In 1919, the poet started a tour to South India. Delivered lectures on different topics at Bangalore, Mysroe, Ooty, Coimbatore, Palghat, Salem, Trichy, Sirangapatnam, Kumbakonam, Tanjore and Madras. At Madras spoke as Chancellor of National University, founded by Annie Besant and stayed as a guest of Mr. Besant at Adyar. In 1919, he wrote a historic letter to Lord Chelmsford repudiating his Knighthood in protest against the massacre at Jalianwalabag, Punjab. In 1920 he went to Gandhiji's Sabarmati Ashram and visited Ahmedabad, Surat and Bombay. Call came from Europe again in 1920. Delivered lectures at New York, Princeton, Chicago and came back to Europe. His effort to raise fund for Viswabharati was not very fruitful in America, mostly because he was seen as an anti-British and pro-German. He continued talks at Geneva, Zurich, Humburg, Copenhaegen, Stockholm, Berlin, Frankfurt, Vienna, Prague and in other cities. 
In 1921, established Viswabharati University. He gave all his money from Nobel Prize and royalty money from his books to this University. Went to Bombay and from there to Poona. Visited and lectured at Mysore, Bangalore,Coimbatore, Trivandam, Cochin and Colombo.  Got invitation from China and visited Sanghai, Peiking. Visited Japan again in this tour. Went to South America. Met Argentine poet Madam Victoria Ocampo at Buenos Ayres. The poet gave her a name , Vijaya and wrote Purabi - a collection of poems dedicated to her. On the return journey visited Italy and lectured in Milan, Venice, Florence. Mahatma Gandhi visited Santiniketan on the poet's birthday. In 1926 visited Dacca, Moimonsingha, Comilla. Visited Europe again and this time went to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Huungary, Bulgaria, Rumania, Greece and Egypt. In 1927 went to Malayasia, Java, Thailand. In 1929 Canada. In 1930 Russia. In 1932 Iran, Iraq. And in 1934 to SriLanka. 
In 1940 Oxford University arranged a special ceremony in Santiniketan to honor the poet with Doctorate Of Literature. Tagore passed away on 7th August, 1941.
Sad demise of his beloved ones came almost in a procession but with the placidity of a yogi he tolerated the shock and it never could stop both his creative and constructive activities. In all his literary output he searched after the eternal values of life: human, aesthetic and deeply spiritual; his songs specially are endowed with all the different shades and forms of love which often transcends to the love for God and also God's love for man.


Swami Vivekananda [1863-1902]

Swami Vivekananda was born Narendranath Dutta, son of a well-known lawyer in Calcutta, Biswanath Dutta, and a very intelligent and pious lady, Bhuvaneswari Devi, in the year 1863. Even in his very childhood Narendranath developed the power of independent thinking and would say: Point out where I'm wrong, but why should you object to my independent thinking? He was a natural leader. He was much sought after by the people because of his various accomplishments.
Narendranath passed Entrance Examination from the Metropolitan Institute and F.A. and B.A. Examinations from the General Assembly's Institution (now Scottish Church College). Hastie, Principal of the College, was highly impressed by Naren's philosophical insight. It was from Hastie that he first heard of Sri Ramakrishna.

As a student of Philosophy, the quest for God burned in his mind. Is there a God ? If there is a God, what is He like ? What is man's relation with Him ? Did He create this world which is so full of anomalies ? A relation of his used to advise him to visit Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar, who, he said, would be able to remove all his doubts about religion.As the days passed, Naren began to grow restless about the various riddles that religion presented to him. He particularly wanted to meet a person who could talk about God with the authority of personal experience. Finally, he went to Ramakrishna one day and asked him straightway if he had seen God. Sri Ramakrishna said he had, and if Naren so wished, he could even show him the same. He began to watch him from close quarters and after a long time he was left in no doubt that Ramakrishna was an extraordinary man. Naren loved and admired Ramakrishna but never surrendered his independence of judgment. Interestingly, Ramakrishna himself did not demand it of him, or of any other of his disciples. Nevertheless, Naren gradually came to accept Ramakrishna as his master.
Ramakrishna suffered from cancer and passed away in 1886. During his illness, a group of select young men had gathered round him and began to nurse him while receiving spiritual guidance from him. Naren was the leader of this group. Ramakrishna wanted that they would take to monastic life and had symbolically given them 'Gerua'. They accordingly founded a monastery at Baranagar and began to live together, depending only upon alms. Sometimes they would also wander about like other monks. Naren also would sometimes go travelling. It was while he was thus travelling that he assumed the name Vivekananda.
Vivekananda travelled extensively through India, sometimes on foot. He was shocked to see the conditions of rural India-people, ignorant, superstitious, half-starved, and victims of caste-tyranny. If this shocked him, the callousness of the so-called educated upper classes shocked him still more. He appealed to all to do something for the masses. No one seemed to pay any heed to him, except the Maharaja of Mysore, the Maharaja of Khetri and a few young men of Madras. Swami Vivekananda impressed on everybody the need to mobilize the masses. A few educated men and women could not solve the problem of the country; the mass power had to be harnessed to the task. He wanted the masses to be educated. It was a kind of 'non-formal' education which perhaps he visualized. His letters to the Maharaja of Mysore on the subject show how much he had given to the subject and how original he was.

Other princes, or the intelligentsia as a whole, were impressed by Swamiji's personality, but were much too engrossed with their own affairs to pay any heed to his appeals. Swamiji could guess the reason why the so-called leaders of the society ignored him. Who was he ? A mere wandering monk. There were hundreds of such monks all over the country. Why should they pay any special attention to him ? By and large, they followed only Western thinkers and those Indians who followed the West and had had some recognition in the West by so doing. It pained Swamiji to see such slave mentality of fellow Indians. Later he would call out the nation and say, 'Feel proud that you are Indians even if you're wearing a loin-cloth'. He was not opposed to learning from the West, for he knew the Western people had some great qualities and it was because of those qualities that they had become so rich and powerful. He wanted India to learn science and technology from the West and its power to organize and its practical sense, but, at the same time, retain its high moral and spiritual idealism. But the selfishness of the so-called educated people pained him more. They were happy if they could care for themselves and they gave a damn to what happened to the people. Swamiji wanted to draw their attention to the miserable condition of the illiterate mass.

As Swamiji arrived in Madras, young people gathered round him drawn by his bright and inspiring talks. They begged him to go to the USA to attend the forthcoming Parliament of Religions in Chicago to represent Hindu relegion and philosophy. They even started raising funds for the purpose. Swamiji was first reluctant but later felt some good might come of his visit to the West. That is exactly what happened. It was a clarion call to the youth's of India. Swamiji made a tremendous impression, first in the USA and then also in England. The press paid him the highest tributes as an exponent of India's age-old values; overnight he became a great national hero in India. This was the starting point of the Indian renaissance. The freedom fighters during the British rule have drawn inspiration from Swami Vivekananda. 'If you want to know India, study Vivekananda', was Rabindranath Tagore's advice to Romain Rolland.

It was Swamiji's hope that India would create a new social order and a new civilization by combining her best spiritual traditions with the latest advancements in science and technology. She would be rich both materially and spiritually. He knew that affluence was not enough, man had to be human too. Through his realisation of the unique harmony that lies in all he wanted India to set an example before the whole world. "Arise, awake and reach the goal" was his message.
To make the whole world know the treasures of Hinduism, Swami Vivekananda translated chatur-yogas in English. He also established Ramakrishna Mission to propagate the ideal of Sri Ramakrishna by performing selfless service to all. Swamiji used to say 'We belong to Cast-less Cast'; neither religion nor any cast or creed, Swami Vivekananda enthused the youth of India and of the whole world to realize one's own self.


Mother Teresa [1910-1997]

“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. ”Small of stature, rocklike in faith, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was entrusted with the mission of proclaiming God’s thirsting love for humanity, especially for the poorest of the poor. “God still loves the world and He sends you and me to be His love and His compassion to the poor.” She was a soul filled with the light of Christ, on fire with love for Him and burning with one desire: “to quench His thirst for love and for souls.” 

This luminous messenger of God’s love was born on 26 August 1910 in Skopje, a city situated at the crossroads of Balkan history. The youngest of the children born to Nikola and Drane Bojaxhiu, she was baptised Gonxha Agnes, received her First Communion at the age of five and a half and was confirmed in November 1916. From the day of her First Holy Communion, a love for souls was within her. Her father’s sudden death when Gonxha was about eight years old left in the family in financial straits. Drane raised her children firmly and lovingly, greatly influencing her daughter’s character and vocation. Gonxha’s religious formation was further assisted by the vibrant Jesuit parish of the Sacred Heart in which she was much involved. 
At the age of eighteen, moved by a desire to become a missionary, Gonxha left her home in September 1928 to join the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known as the Sisters of Loreto, in Ireland. There she received the name Sister Mary Teresa after St. Thérèse of Lisieux. In December, she departed for India, arriving in Calcutta on 6 January 1929. After making her First Profession of Vows in May 1931, Sister Teresa was assigned to the Loreto Entally community in Calcutta and taught at St. Mary’s School for girls. On 24 May 1937, Sister Teresa made her Final Profession of Vows, becoming, as she said, the “spouse of Jesus” for “all eternity.” From that time on she was called Mother Teresa. She continued teaching at St. Mary’s and in 1944 became the principal of the school. A person of profound prayer and deep love for her religious sisters and her students, Mother Teresa’s twenty years in Loreto were filled with profound happiness. Noted for her charity, unselfishness and courage, her capacity for hard work and a natural talent for organization, she lived out her consecration to Jesus, in the midst of her companions, with fidelity and joy.
On 10 September 1946 during the train ride from Calcutta to Darjeeling for her annual retreat, Mother Teresa received her “inspiration,” her “call within a call.” On that day, in a way she would never explain, Jesus’ thirst for love and for souls took hold of her heart and the desire to satiate His thirst became the driving force of her life. Over the course of the next weeks and months, by means of interior locutions and visions, Jesus revealed to her the desire of His heart for “victims of love” who would “radiate His love on souls.” Come be My light,” He begged her. “I cannot go alone.” He revealed His pain at the neglect of the poor, His sorrow at their ignorance of Him and His longing for their love. He asked Mother Teresa to establish a religious community, Missionaries of Charity, dedicated to the service of the poorest of the poor. Nearly two years of testing and discernment passed before Mother Teresa received permission to begin. On August 17, 1948, she dressed for the first time in a white, blue-bordered sari and passed through the gates of her beloved Loreto convent to enter the world of the poor.
After a short course with the Medical Mission Sisters in Patna, Mother Teresa returned to Calcutta and found temporary lodging with the Little Sisters of the Poor. On 21 December she went for the first time to the slums. She visited families, washed the sores of some children, cared for an old man lying sick on the road and nursed a woman dying of hunger and TB. She started each day in communion with Jesus in the Eucharist and then went out, rosary in her hand, to find and serve Him in “the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for.” After some months, she was joined, one by one, by her former students.
On 7 October 1950 the new congregation of the Missionaries of Charity was officially established in the Archdiocese of Calcutta. By the early 1960s, Mother Teresa began to send her Sisters to other parts of India. The Decree of Praise granted to the Congregation by Pope Paul VI in February 1965 encouraged her to open a house in Venezuela. It was soon followed by foundations in Rome and Tanzania and, eventually, on every continent. Starting in 1980 and continuing through the 1990s, Mother Teresa opened houses in almost all of the communist countries, including the former Soviet Union, Albania and Cuba.
In order to respond better to both the physical and spiritual needs of the poor, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity Brothers in 1963, in 1976 the contemplative branch of the Sisters, in 1979 the Contemplative Brothers, and in 1984 the Missionaries of Charity Fathers. Yet her inspiration was not limited to those with religious vocations. She formed the Co-Workers of Mother Teresa and the Sick and Suffering Co-Workers, people of many faiths and nationalities with whom she shared her spirit of prayer, simplicity, sacrifice and her apostolate of humble works of love. This spirit later inspired the Lay Missionaries of Charity. In answer to the requests of many priests, in 1981 Mother Teresa also began the Corpus Christi Movement for Priests as a “little way of holiness” for those who desire to share in her charism and spirit.
During the years of rapid growth the world began to turn its eyes towards Mother Teresa and the work she had started. Numerous awards, beginning with the Indian Padmashri Award in 1962 and notably the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, honoured her work, while an increasingly interested media began to follow her activities. She received both prizes and attention “for the glory of God and in the name of the poor.”
The whole of Mother Teresa’s life and labour bore witness to the joy of loving, the greatness and dignity of every human person, the value of little things done faithfully and with love, and the surpassing worth of friendship with God. But there was another heroic side of this great woman that was revealed only after her death. Hidden from all eyes, hidden even from those closest to her, was her interior life marked by an experience of a deep, painful and abiding feeling of being separated from God, even rejected by Him, along with an ever-increasing longing for His love. She called her inner experience, “the darkness.”  The “painful night” of her soul, which began around the time she started her work for the poor and continued to the end of her life, led Mother Teresa to an ever more profound union with God. Through the darkness she mystically participated in the thirst of Jesus, in His painful and burning longing for love, and she shared in the interior desolation of the poor.
During the last years of her life, despite increasingly severe health problems, Mother Teresa continued to govern her Society and respond to the needs of the poor and the Church. By 1997, Mother Teresa’s Sisters numbered nearly 4,000 members and were established in 610 foundations in 123 countries of the world. In March 1997 she blessed her newly-elected successor as Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity and then made one more trip abroad. After meeting Pope John Paul II for the last time, she returned to Calcutta and spent her final weeks receiving visitors and instructing her Sisters. On 5 September Mother Teresa’s earthly life came to an end. She was given the honour of a state funeral by the Government of India and her body was buried in the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity. Her tomb quickly became a place of pilgrimage and prayer for people of all faiths, rich and poor alike. Mother Teresa left a testament of unshakable faith, invincible hope and extraordinary charity. Her response to Jesus’ plea, “Come be My light,” made her a Missionary of Charity, a “mother to the poor,” a symbol of compassion to the world, and a living witness to the thirsting love of God.
Less than two years after her death, in view of Mother Teresa’s widespread reputation of holiness and the favours being reported, Pope John Paul II permitted the opening of her Cause of Canonization. On 20 December 2002 he approved the decrees of her heroic virtues and miracles.