(CNN) -- "The other day I dreamed that I was at the gates of heaven....And St. Peter said, 'Go back to Earth, there are no slums up here.'"
These words, once spoken by Mother Teresa, vividly recall the life of the late Roman Catholic nun and missionary known as "the Saint of the Gutters." For Mother Teresa, who devoted her life to the succor of the sick and the outcast, earthly sufferers were nothing less than Christ in "distressing disguise."
From an early age, the girl who would become Mother Teresa felt the call to help others. Born August 26, 1910, in Skopje (now in Macedonia), Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu was the daughter of Albanian parents -- a grocer and his wife. As a public school student she developed a special interest in overseas missions and, by age 12, realized her vocation was aiding the poor.
She was inspired to work in India by reports sent home from Jesuit missionaries in Bengal. And at 18, she left home to join a community of Irish nuns with a mission in Calcutta. Here, she took the name "Sister Teresa," after Saint Teresa of Lisieux, the patroness of missionaries. She spent 17 years teaching and being principal of St. Mary's high school in Calcutta. However, in 1946, her life changed forever.
After taking a medical training course to prepare for her new mission, she went into the slums of Calcutta to start a school for children. They called her "Mother Teresa."
Through the years, Mother Teresa's fame grew, as did the
magnitude of her deeds ...
Highlights of Mother Teresa's life
Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu born August 27 in Skopje, in what is now Macedonia, the youngest of three children of an Albanian builder.
1928: Becomes novitiate in Loretto order, which ran mission schools in India, and takes name Sister Teresa.
1929: Arrives in Calcutta to teach at St. Mary's High School.
1937: Takes final vows as a nun.
1946: While riding a train to the mountain town of Darjeeling to recover from suspected tuberculosis, she said she received a calling from God "to serve him among the poorest of the poor."
1947: Permitted to leave her order and moves to Calcutta's slums to set up her first school.
1950: Founds the order of Missionaries of Charity.
1952: Opens Nirmal Hriday, or "Pure Heart," a home for the dying, followed next year by her first orphanage.
1962: Wins her first prize for her humanitarian work: the Padma Shri award for distinguished service. Over the years, she uses the money from such prizes to found dozens of new homes.
1979: Wins Nobel Peace Prize.
1982: Persuades Israelis and Palestinians to stop shooting long enough to rescue 37 retarded children from a hospital in besieged Beirut.
1983: Has a heart attack while in Rome visiting Pope John Paul II.
1985: Awarded Medal of Freedom, the highest U.S. civilian award.
1989: Has a second and nearly fatal attack. Doctors implant a pacemaker.
1990: Announces her intention to resign, and a conclave of sisters is called to choose successor. In a secret ballot, Mother Teresa is re-elected with only one dissenting vote -- her own -- and withdraws request to step down.
1991: Suffers pneumonia in Tijuana, Mexico, leading to congestive heart failure, and is hospitalized in La Jolla, California.
1993: Breaks three ribs in fall in May in Rome; hospitalized for malaria in August in New Delhi; undergoes surgery to clear blocked blood vessel in Calcutta in September.
1996: November 16, receives honorary U.S. citizenship.
1996: Falls and breaks collarbone in April; suffers malarial fever and failure of the left heart ventricle in August; treated for a chest infection and recurring heart problems in September. Readmitted to hospital with chest pains and breathing problems November 22.
1997: March 13, steps down as head of her order.
Among the 124 Awards
Received some were:
Padmashree Award (from the President of India) August 1962
Pope John XXIII Peace Prize January 1971
John F. Kennedy International Award September 1971
Jawahalal Nehru Award for International Understanding November 1972
Templeton Prize for "Progress in Religion" April 1973
Nobel Peace Prize December 1979
Bharat Ratna (Jewel of India) March 1980
Order of Merit (from Queen Elizabeth) November 1983
Gold Medal of the Soviet Peace Committee August 1987
United States Congressional Gold Medal June 1997
At the time of Mother Teresa's death, The Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity numbered 3,914 members, and were established in 594 communities in 123 countries of the world. Her work continues under the guidance of Sister
Nirmala, Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity Sisters. The order has grown over 4,000 members in 697 foundations in 131 countries of the world.
Died: Mother Teresa on September 5, 1997 in Kolkata, India