The word ‘Mother’ carries a passionate and profound sentimental weight for every human being on the planet. Where this term is ordinarily given to those who birthed us, there are Mothers whom we can all recognize as being universally admired. Let’s take a moment to explore the inspirational lives these women led.

Mothers come in many shapes and sizes and can be defined with limitless definitions, however, one element is always present, love. From the noble mothers raising their children with deep nourishing, frenzied love and care, the ever-present aged grandmothers patiently enduring their grandchildren’s chatter, or the childless mothers of counties, orphans, and humanity, devoted to selfless kindness, each and all deserve to carry that most sacred of names and gain our deepest admiration.

Mother Teresa, the mother of all and none

Mother Teresa. (Wikipedia)

Born in Macedonia in 1901, Mother Teresa devoted her life to compassionate missionary work in the subcontinent of India. She founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950 with only 13 other members. Over the course of its development, there have been tens of thousands of nuns joining her lineage. In addition to this,  many orphanages, clinics for AIDS patients and charitable centers have been established worldwide.

Her contributions were quickly noticed by the international community. Individuals and charities all over the world, in turn, expressed their wish to join hands in helping the poor and those who had fallen into despair through her organizations.

Mother Teresa spent her entire life devoted to the most downtrodden and desperate people; she ate, slept and lived together with them. Whether they were AIDS patients or aggressive prisoners, all were touched by her great love and faith.

In honor of her dedication to humanity, in 1979  Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But that title goes only a short way to describe all that she built and contributed to the world. Teresa has no biological children, but she is affectionately known as the Mother of the whole world – “The saint of the destitute”.

Cornelia, Gracchi’s mother, and the Roman Ideal

Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi (1785) by Angelica Kauffman. (Wikipedia)

Cornelia Scipionis is a symbol of the virtue of Roman women in the 1st century BC and was a prolific mother. After getting married, she gave birth to 12 children but only 3 survived until adulthood.

After her husband, Tiberius Gracchus Majo, died, she spent her entire youth raising her children. However, due to her noble status as a Princess and as the daughter of hero Publius Scipio Africanus (who defeated Hannibal during the Second Punic War), she received quite a number of proposals from multiple potential suitors, most notably from King Ptolemy VIII of Egypt, but all were rejected.

Cornelia pushes away Ptolemy’s crown, by Laurent de La Hyre. (Wikipedia)

Cornelia’s faithfulness is seen as a testimony to the desired ideals of a woman and mother in the typical Roman family at that time: “A widow will only be faithful to the sole husband she marries.”

During her time, Rome was immersed in magnificent luxury and the ostentatious lifestyles of the aristocracy. But Princess Cornelia was known for her modest and economical approach to life. She studied Latin, Greek, and poetry and educated her children in these things with love, care, and patience.

After she passed away, a marble statue of Cornelia was built to honor the grandeur of her and all mothers. She was favorably renamed “Gracchi’s Mother”.

Mencius’s mother – The most famous mother in Chinese history

Those who have heard the story “Mencius’s mother moves home three times” would perhaps find the way that the mother in the story teaches her son to be very serious and thorough indeed.

In the story, Mencius’s father dies when he is very young, and so his mother raises him on her own. They are very poor so it is not easy for her to play the role of both father and mother. They live together by a cemetery and every day Mencius would see people crying so miserably that he would return home in tears himself. Realizing that where they are living is not good for her son, Mencius’s mother moves them to a busy market place.

There the boy learns how to trade his belongings and quickly becomes boastful about his possessions. So the mother again moves them to a house next to a school. Inspired by the respectful manner and diligence of the scholars and students Mencius learns to focus on his studies and refine his character. Only then did Mencius’s mother feel relieved, “This place is the right space for my child.”

Every day, she made herself an example for her son. Once she told a joke to her child and then had to follow what she said to prevent her son from thinking that she was a liar.

Mencius. (Wikipedia)

Later on, Mencius became an outstanding philosopher in the Warring States era who was proclaimed as “The second Sage” –  ranked after only Confucius himself.

Her strict attitude and teaching methods have gained the greatest admiration of many generations that followed her story.  

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