10 Dramatic Acts of Human Kindness

Mother Teresa's Work
Mother Teresa at her mission in Calcutta, India in 1980. © Tim Graham/Corbis

In 1999, on the cusp of the new millennium, Americans voted Mother Teresa the Most Admired Person of the Century, according to a CNN/USA Today Gallup poll, admired more than Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, Albert Einstein and Helen Keller [source: Newport]. What makes her so special? Mother Teresa, born as Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu and called the Angel of Mercy, was a missionary and Roman Catholic nun who dedicated her life to helping others. When we think saint, we think Mother Teresa.

In 1950 she established The Missionaries of Charity, an order devoted to caring for the sick, homeless and helpless. In 1979, she won the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2013, though, a controversial study suggested Mother Teresa's saintly reputation may be somewhat exaggerated [source: Chumley]. While her homes for the dying didn't provide much more than prayer to ease suffering, she did devote herself and her life to helping the sick.

Mother Teresa died in 1997.