Mother Teresa LIFE Photo Essay
From the July 1980 issue of LIFE

On the streets of Calcutta. Kipling's City of Dreadful Night, hundreds of thousands of people are born, live and die in destitution scarcely imaginable to the western mind. They, the dispossessed, coexist with the prouder parts of Calcutta -- elegant homes and modern office buildings -- in the squalid interstices of a society that is otherwise lively in culture, politics and commerce.

In 1948 a tiny nun left the landscaped confines of Calcutta's Loreto convent for the teeming streets to devote herself to caring for the poorest of the poor. For this zealous commitment, Mother Teresa, nearing 70, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last fall. Today Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity number 158 houses all over the world, comprising 2,000 nuns as well as a brotherhood of 250 members and some 10,000 lay volunteers.