Perhaps the best known public figure is Mother Teresa. Many still do not realize that she was Albanian.
Teresa was born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu Anjezë being the cognate of “Agnes”; Gonxhe meaning “rosebud” or “little flower” in Albanian on 26 August 1910 into a Kosovar Albanian family in Shkup, Ottoman Empire (Now The Capital Of FYROM).She later considered 27 August, the day she was baptised, to be her “true birthday”.
Mother Teresa Gonxhe Bojaxhiu (left) and sister Age Bojaxhiu wearing traditional Albanian costumes c.1923.
They youngest of children born to Nikoa 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.
Her father’s sudden death when Gonxha was about eight years old left the family in financial straights.
Drane raised her children firmly and lovingly, greatly influencing her daughter’s character and vocation. Gonxha’s religious formation developed further through her extensive involvement in the vibrant Jesuit paris of the Sacred Heart.
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. Therese of Lisieux.