Teresa of Ávila

Saint Teresa of Ávila, born Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus (28 March 1515 – 4 October 1582), was a Spanish noblewoman with Jewish roots who chose a monastic life in the Roman Catholic church. A Carmelite nun, prominent Spanish mystic, religious reformer, author, theologian of the contemplative life and mental prayer, she earned the rare distinction of being declared a Doctor of the Church over four centuries after her death.[5] Active during the Counter-Reformation, she reformed the Carmelite Orders of both women and men. The movement she initiated was later joined by the younger Spanish Carmelite friar and mystic, Saint John of the Cross. It led eventually to the establishment of the Discalced Carmelites. A formal papal decree adopting the split was issued in 1580.[6]

Teresa, who had been a social celebrity in her home province, was dogged by early family losses and ill health. In her mature years, she became the central figure of a movement of spiritual and monastic renewal borne out of an inner conviction and honed by ascetic practice. She was also at the centre of deep ecclesiastical controversy as she took on the pervasive laxity in her order against the background of the Protestant reformation sweeping over Europe and the Spanish Inquisition asserting church discipline in her home country. The consequences were to last well beyond her life.

Forty years after her death in 1622, Teresa was canonized by Pope Gregory XV. At the time she was considered a candidate for national patron saint of Spain, but lost out to St. James the Apostle. She has since become one of the patron saints of Spain.

Her written contributions, which include her autobiography, The Life of Teresa of Jesus and her seminal work The Interior Castle, are today an integral part of Spanish Renaissance literature. Together with The Way of Perfection, her works form part of the Literary canon of Christian mysticism and Christian meditation practice, and continue to attract interest from people both within and outside her church. However, not until September 27, 1970, did Pope Paul VI proclaim Teresa a Doctor of the Church in recognition of her centuries-long spiritual legacy to Catholicism.[7]

Other associations with Teresa beyond her writings continue to exert a wide influence. A Santero image of the Immaculate Conception of El Viejo said to have been sent by her with a brother emigrating to Peru, was canonically crowned by Pope John Paul II on December 28, 1989 at the Shrine of El Viejo in Nicaragua.[8] Another Catholic tradition holds that Saint Teresa is personally associated with devotion to the Infant Jesus of Prague, a statue she may have owned. Since her death, her reputation has grown, leading to multiple portrayals. She continues to be widely noted as inspiration to philosophers, theologians, historians, neurologists, fiction writers, artists as well as countless ordinary people interested in Christian spirituality and mysticism.

Speaking to pilgrims from Avila in October 1981, Pope John Paul II said: "It is necessary for the rich legacy left by Teresa of Jesus to be deeply reconsidered so that it can effect a renewal of the inner life of your nation and thereby influence the renewal of life in the entire church in all its aspects. The giant figure of the Great Teresa should act as a strong encouragement in that direction not only on a local or national scale but also on a universal scale".[9] [10][11]

Saint Teresa of Ávila
Peter Paul Rubens 138
Saint Teresa of Ávila by Peter Paul Rubens
Teresa of Jesus, Reverend Mother, Prioress, Doctor of the Church
Born28 March 1515
Ávila, Crown of Castile (today Spain)
Died4 October 1582 (aged 67)[1]
Alba de Tormes, Salamanca, Spain
Venerated in
Beatified24 April 1614, Rome by Pope Paul V
Canonized12 March 1622, Rome by Pope Gregory XV
Major shrineConvent of the Annunciation, Alba de Tormes, Spain
Feast15 October
Attributesof Spanish-Jewish parentage, contemplative, mystic, ecstatic, writer on mental prayer, religious reformer, administrator, prolific correspondent possibly temporal lobe epilepsy sufferer
PatronageSpain, sick people, people in religious orders, people ridiculed for their piety, lacemakers, Požega, Croatia, Talisay City, Cebu, Philippines
ControversyHer reforms met with determined opposition and interest from the Spanish Inquisition, but no charges were laid against her. Her order split as a result

Early life

Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada was born in 1515 in Ávila, Spain. Her paternal grandfather, Juan Sánchez de Toledo, was a marrano or Converso, a Jew forced to convert to Christianity or emigrate. When Teresa's father was a child, Juan was condemned by the Spanish Inquisition for allegedly returning to the Jewish faith, but he was later able to assume a Catholic identity.[12] Her father, Alonso Sánchez de Cepeda, was a successful wool merchant and one of the wealthiest men in Ávila. He bought a knighthood and assimilated successfully into Christian society.

Previously married to Catalina del Peso y Henao, with whom he had three children, in 1509, Sánchez de Cepeda married Teresa's mother, Beatriz de Ahumada y Cuevas, in Gotarrendura.[13]

Teresa's mother was keen to raise her daughter as a pious Christian. Teresa was fascinated by accounts of the lives of the saints and ran away from home at age seven with her brother Rodrigo to find martyrdom among the Moors. Her uncle stopped them on the road as he was returning to the town, having spotted them outside the town walls.[14]

When Teresa was eleven years old, her mother died, leaving her grief-stricken. This prompted her to embrace a deeper devotion to the Virgin Mary as her spiritual mother. Teresa was also enamored of popular fiction, which at the time was primarily medieval tales of knighthood and works about fashion, gardens and flowers.[15][16] Teresa was sent to the Augustinian nuns' school at Ávila.[17]

Entry into religious life

After completing her education, she initially resisted the idea of a religious vocation, but after a stay with her uncle and other relatives, she relented. In 1536 aged 18, much to the disappointment of her pious and austere father, she decided to enter the local easy-going Carmelite Convent of the Incarnation, significantly built on top of land that had been used previously as a burial ground for Jews. She took up religious reading on contemplative prayer, especially Osuna’s Third Spiritual Alphabet (1527). Her zeal for mortification caused her to become ill again and she spent almost a year in bed, causing huge worry to her community and family. She nearly died but, she recovered thanks to the miraculous intercession of St. Joseph, she believed. She began to experience instances of religious ecstasy.[18]

Foundations of spirituality

Her reading of medieval mystics, consisted of directions for examinations of conscience and for spiritual self-concentration and inner contemplation known in mystical nomenclature as oratio recollectionis or oratio mentalis. She also dipped into other mystical ascetic works such as the Tractatus de oratione et meditatione of Saint Peter of Alcantara, and perhaps some upon which Saint Ignatius of Loyola based his Spiritual Exercises—possibly the Spiritual Exercises themselves.

She reported that, during her illness, she had risen from the lowest stage, "recollection", to the "devotions of silence" or even to the "devotions of ecstasy", which was one of perfect union with God (see § Mysticism). During this final stage, she said she frequently experienced a rich "blessing of tears". As the Catholic distinction between mortal and venial sin became clear to her, she came to understand the awful terror of sin and the inherent nature of original sin. She also became conscious of her own natural impotence in confronting sin and the necessity of absolute subjection to God.

Around 1556, friends suggested that her newfound knowledge was diabolical, not divine. She had begun to inflict mortifications of the flesh upon herself. But her confessor, the Jesuit Saint Francis Borgia, reassured her of the divine inspiration of her thoughts. On St. Peter's Day in 1559, Teresa became firmly convinced that Jesus Christ presented himself to her in bodily form, though invisible. These visions lasted almost uninterrupted for more than two years. In another vision, a seraph drove the fiery point of a golden lance repeatedly through her heart, causing an ineffable spiritual and bodily pain:

I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it...


This vision was the inspiration for one of Bernini's most famous works, the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa at Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome.

The memory of this episode served as an inspiration throughout the rest of her life, and motivated her lifelong imitation of the life and suffering of Jesus, epitomized in the adage often associated with her: "Lord, either let me suffer or let me die."

Embarassment of raptures

Teresa who became a celebrity in her town dispensing wisdom from behind the convent grille, was also known for her raptures which sometimes involved levitation. It was a source of embarrassment to her and she bade her sisters hold her down when this occurred. Subsequently, historians and neurologists and psychiatrists like, Peter Fenwick and Javier Alvarez-Rodriguez among others, have taken an interest in her symptomatology. The fact that she wrote down virtually everything that happened to her during her religious life, means that an invaluable and exceedingly rare medical record from the 16th-century has been preserved. Examination of this record has led to the speculative conclusion that she may have suffered from Temporal lobe epilepsy.[20][21]

Monastic reformer

Over time, Teresa found herself increasingly at odds with the spiritual malaise prevailing in her convent of the Incarnation. Among the 150 nuns living there, the observance of cloister, designed to protect and strengthen spiritual practice and prayer, became so lax that it appeared to lose its purpose. The daily invasion of visitors, many of high social and political rank, disturbed the atmosphere with frivolous concerns and vacuous conversation. Such intrusions in the solitude essential to develop and sustain contemplative prayer so grieved Teresa that she longed to intervene.[22]

The incentive to take the practical steps inspired by her inward motivation was supported by the Franciscan priest, Saint Peter of Alcantara, who met her early in 1560 and became her spiritual adviser. She resolved to found a "reformed" Carmelite convent, correcting the laxity which she had found at the Incarnation convent and elsewhere besides. Guimara de Ulloa, a woman of wealth and a friend, supplied the funds for the project.

The abject poverty of the new convent, established in 1562 and named St. Joseph's (San José), at first caused a scandal among the citizens and authorities of Ávila, and the small house with its chapel was in peril of suppression. However, powerful patrons, including the local bishop, coupled with the impression of well ordered subsistence and purpose, turned animosity into approval.

In March 1563, after Teresa had moved to the new convent house, she received papal sanction for her primary principles of absolute poverty and renunciation of ownership of property, which she proceeded to formulate into a "constitution". Her plan was the revival of the earlier, stricter monastic rules, supplemented by new regulations including the three disciplines of ceremonial flagellation prescribed for the Divine Office every week, and the discalceation of the religious. For the first five years, Teresa remained in seclusion, mostly engaged in prayer and writing.

Church window at the Convent of St Teresa

Extended travels

In 1567, Teresa received a patent from the Carmelite General, Rubeo de Ravenna, to establish further houses of the new order. This process required many visitations and long journeys across nearly all the provinces of Spain. She left a record of the arduous project in her Libro de las Fundaciones. Between 1567 and 1571, reformed convents were established at Medina del Campo, Malagón, Valladolid, Toledo, Pastrana, Salamanca, and Alba de Tormes.

As part of the original patent, Teresa was given permission to set up two houses for men who wished to adopt the reforms. She convinced two Carmelite friars, John of the Cross and Father Anthony of Jesus to help with this. They founded the first monastery of Discalced Carmelite brothers in November 1568 at Duruelo. Another friend of Teresa, Jerónimo Gracián, the Carmelite visitator of the older observance of Andalusia and apostolic commissioner, and later provincial of the Teresian order, gave her powerful support in founding monasteries at Segovia (1571), Beas de Segura (1574), Seville (1575), and Caravaca de la Cruz (Murcia, 1576). Meanwhile, John of the Cross promoted the inner life of the movement through his power as a teacher and preacher.[23]

Opposition to reforms

In 1576, unreformed members of the Carmelite order began to persecute Teresa, her supporters and her reforms. Following a number of resolutions adopted at the general chapter at Piacenza, the governing body of the order forbade all further founding of reformed convents. The general chapter instructed her to go into "voluntary" retirement at one of her institutions.[24] She obeyed and chose St. Joseph's at Toledo. Meanwhile her friends and associates were subjected to further attacks.[24]

Several years later, her appeals by letter to King Philip II of Spain secured relief. As a result, in 1579, the cases before the inquisition against her, Father Gracian and others, were dropped.[24] This allowed the reform to resume. An edict from Pope Gregory XIII allowed the appointment of a special provincial for the newer branch of the Carmelite religious, and a royal decree created a "protective" board of four assessors for the reform.[24]

During the last three years of her life, Teresa founded convents at Villanueva de la Jara in northern Andalusia (1580), Palencia (1580), Soria (1581), Burgos, and Granada (1582). In total, seventeen convents, all but one founded by her, and as many men's monasteries were owed to her reforms over twenty years.[25]

Last days

Her final illness overtook her on one of her journeys from Burgos to Alba de Tormes. She died in 1582, just as Catholic Europe was making the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, which required the excision of the dates of 5–14 October from the calendar. She died either before midnight of 4 October or early in the morning of 15 October which is celebrated as her feast day. According to the liturgical calendar then in use, she died on the 15th. Her last words were: "My Lord, it is time to move on. Well then, may your will be done. O my Lord and my Spouse, the hour that I have longed for has come. It is time to meet one another."[26]

Holy relics

Avila SaintTheresa1
Avila, Saint Theresa's statue

She was buried at the Convento de la Anunciación in Alba de Tormes. Nine months after her death the coffin was opened and her body was found to be intact but the clothing had rotted. Before the body was re-interred one of her hands was cut off, wrapped in a scarf and sent to Ávila. Father Gracián cut the little finger off the hand and - according to his own account - kept it with him until it was taken by the occupying Ottoman Turks, from whom he had to redeem it with a few rings and 20 reales. The body was exhumed again on 25 November 1585 to be moved to Ávila and found to be incorrupt. An arm was removed and left in Alba de Tormes at the nuns' request, to compensate for losing the main relic of Teresa, but the rest of the body was reburied in the Discalced Carmelite chapter house in Ávila. The removal was done without the approval of the Duke of Alba de Tormes and he brought the body back in 1586, with Pope Sixtus V ordering that it remain in Alba de Tormes on pain of excommunication. A grander tomb on the original site was raised in 1598 and the body was moved to a new chapel in 1616.

The body still remains there, apart from the following parts:

  • Rome - right foot and part of the upper jaw
  • Lisbon - left hand
  • Ronda, Spain - left eye and right hand (the latter was kept by Francisco Franco until his death after Francoist troops captured it from Republican troops during the Spanish Civil War)
  • Museum of the Church of the Annunciation, Alba de Tormes - left arm and heart
  • Church of Our Lady of Loreto, Paris, France - one finger
  • Sanlúcar de Barrameda - one finger


In 1622, forty years after her death, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV. The Cortes exalted her to patroness of Spain in 1627. The University of Salamanca had granted her the title Doctor ecclesiae (Latin for "Doctor of the Church") with a diploma in her lifetime but that title is distinct from the papal honour of Doctor of the Church, which is always conferred posthumously. The latter was finally bestowed upon her by Pope Paul VI on 27 September 1970,[7] along with Saint Catherine of Siena,[27] making them the first women to be awarded the distinction. Teresa is revered as the Doctor of Prayer. The mysticism in her works exerted a formative influence upon many theologians of the following centuries, such as Francis of Sales, Fénelon, and the Port-Royalists. In 1670 her coffin was plated in silver.

Palau de Mafra - Estàtua - 1
Statue of Saint Teresa of Ávila in Mafra National Palace, Mafra


The ultimate preoccupation of Teresa's mystical thought, as consistently reflected in her writings, is the ascent of the soul to God in four stages (see: The Autobiography Chs. 10-22):

  • The second, Devotion of Peace, is where human will is surrendered to God. This occurs by virtue of an uplifted awareness granted by God, while other faculties, such as memory, reason, and imagination, are not yet safe from worldly distraction. Although a partial distraction can happen, due to outer activity such as repetition of prayers or writing down spiritual things, the prevailing state is one of quietude (Autobiography 14.1).
  • The third, Devotion of Union, concerns the absorption-in-God. It is not only a heightened, but essentially, an ecstatic state. At this level, reason is also surrendered to God, and only the memory and imagination are left to ramble. This state is characterized by a blissful peace, a sweet slumber of at least the higher soul faculties, that is a consciousness of being enraptured by the love of God.
  • The fourth, Devotion of Ecstasy, is where the consciousness of being in the body disappears. Sensory faculties cease to operate. Memory and imagination also become absorbed in God, as though intoxicated. Body and spirit dwell in the throes of exquisite pain, alternating between a fearful fiery glow, in complete unconscious helplessness, and periods of apparent strangulation. Sometimes such ecstatic transports literally cause the body to be lifted into space.[28] This state may last as long as half an hour and tends to be followed by relaxation of a few hours of swoon-like weakness, attended by the absence of all faculties while in union with God. The subject awakens from this trance state in tears. it may be regarded as the culmination of mystical experience.

Indeed, Teresa was said to have been observed levitating during Mass on more than one occasion.[28]

"It is love alone that gives worth to all things."

Teresa is regarded as one of the foremost writers on mental prayer, and her position among writers on mystical theology as unique. Her writings on this theme, stem from her personal experiences, thereby manifesting considerable insight and analytical gifts. Her definitions have been used in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Teresa states: "Contemplative prayer, oración mental, in my opinion is nothing other than a close sharing between friends. It means frequently taking time to be alone with Him whom we know loves us."[29] Throughout her writings, Teresa returns to the image of watering one's garden as a metaphor for mystical prayer.


Teresa de Jesús
This is the one portrait of Teresa that is probably the most true to her appearance. It is a copy of an original 1576 painting of her when she was 61

Teresa's writings are regarded as among the most remarkable in the mystical literature of the Catholic Church.

  • The Autobiography, written before 1567, under the direction of her confessor, Fr. Pedro Ibáñez.[30]
  • El Camino de Perfección (The Way of Perfection), written also before 1567, at the direction of her confessor.[31]
  • "Meditations on Song of Songs", 1567, written nominally for her daughters at the convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
  • El Castillo Interior (The Interior Castle), written in 1577.[32][33][34]
  • Relaciones (Relationships), an extension of the autobiography giving her inner and outer experiences in epistolary form.
  • Two smaller works are the Conceptos del Amor ("Concepts of Love") and Exclamaciones. In addition, there are Las Cartas (Saragossa, 1671), or her correspondence, of which there are 342 extant letters and 87 fragments of others. St Teresa's prose is marked by an unaffected grace, an ornate neatness, and charming power of expression, together placing her in the front rank of Spanish prose writers.
  • Her rare poems ("Todas las poesías", Munster, 1854) are distinguished for tenderness of feeling and rhythm of thought.

Philosophical works

Christia Mercer, Columbia University philosophy professor, claims that the seventeenth-century Frenchman, René Descartes, lifted some of his most influential ideas from Teresa of Ávila, who, fifty years before Descartes, wrote popular books about the role of philosophical reflection in intellectual growth. [35] She describes a number of striking similarities between Descartes' seminal work Meditations on First Philosophy and Teresa's Interior Castle.[36]


Saint Teresa, who reported visions of Jesus and Mary, was a strong believer in the efficacy of holy water, claiming to have used it with success to repel evil spirits and temptations.[37] She wrote:[38] "I know from frequent experience that there is nothing which puts devils to flight better than holy water."

A poem:

Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing make you afraid.
All things are passing.
God alone never changes.
Patience gains all things.
If you have God you will want for nothing.
God alone suffices.

— St. Teresa, The bookmark of Teresa of Ávila, [39]

The modern poem Christ has no body, though widely attributed to Teresa,[40][41] is not found in her writings.[42]

Legacy and the Infant Jesus of Prague

The Spanish nuns who established Carmel in France brought a devotion to the Infant Jesus with them, and it became widespread in France.[43] Indeed, one of Teresa's most famous later followers, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (1875-1898), a French Carmelite, herself named for Teresa, took as her religious name Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.[44]

Though there are no written historical accounts establishing that Teresa of Ávila ever owned the famous Infant Jesus of Prague statue, according to tradition, such a statue is said to have been in her possession and Teresa is reputed to have given it to a noblewoman travelling to Prague.[45][46][47][48] The age of the statue dates to approximately the same time as Teresa. It has been thought that Teresa carried a portable statue of the Child Jesus wherever she went, the idea circulated by the early 1700s.[49]

Patron saint

In the 1620s, Spain debated who should be the country's patron saint; the choices were either the current patron, Saint James Matamoros, or a pairing of him and the newly canonised Saint Teresa of Ávila. Teresa's promoters said Spain faced newer challenges, especially the threat of Protestantism and societal decline at home, thus needing a more contemporary patron who understood those issues and could guide the Spanish nation. Santiago's supporters (Santiaguistas) fought back and eventually won the argument, but Teresa of Ávila remained far more popular at the local level.[50] Saint James the Greater kept the title of patron saint for the Spanish people, and the most Blessed Virgin Mary under the title Immaculate Conception as the sole patroness for the entire Spanish Kingdom.


They include the following:

François Gérard - St Theresa (detail)
Detail of St. Theresa, 1827, by French painter François Gérard
Georges Jules Victor Clairin (1843-1919), Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) in ''Sainte Therese d'Avila''
Portrait of Sarah Bernhardt as Thérèse in La Vierge d'Avila by Catulle Mendès (1906)


Painting and sculpture


  • Simone de Beauvoir singles out Teresa as a woman who lived the human condition (perhaps the only woman to do so) in her book The Second Sex.[59]
  • She is mentioned prominently in Kathryn Harrison's novel Poison. The main character, Francisca De Luarca, is fascinated by her life.
  • R. A. Lafferty was strongly inspired by El Castillo Interior when he wrote his novel Fourth Mansions. Quotations from St. Teresa's work are frequently used as chapter headings.[60]
  • Pierre Klossowski prominently features Saint Teresa of Ávila in his metaphysical novel The Baphomet.[61]
  • George Eliot compared Dorothea Brooke to St. Teresa in Middlemarch (1871–1872) and wrote briefly about the life and works of St. Teresa in the "Prelude" to the novel.[62]
  • Thomas Hardy took Saint Teresa as the inspiration for much of the characterisation of the heroine Tess (Teresa) Durbeyfield, in Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891), most notably the scene in which she lies in a field and senses her soul ecstatically above her.[63]
  • The contemporary poet Jorie Graham features Saint Teresa in the poem Breakdancing in her volume The End of Beauty.[64]
  • Barbara Mujica's novel Sister Teresa, while not strictly hagiographical, is based upon Teresa's life.[65]
  • Timothy Findley's 1999 novel Pilgrim features Saint Teresa as a minor character.[66]
  • Zepeda, Reginald (2012). From Spain to Texas: A Cepeda y Ahumada Family Journey. Xlibris. ISBN 9781479770083.

Drama and Film

See also

References and Notes

  1. ^ At some hour of the night between 4 October and 15 October 1582, the night of the transition in Spain from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar.
  2. ^ "Notable Lutheran Saints". Resurrectionpeople.org.
  3. ^ "Holy Days". Churchofengland.org.
  4. ^ "Holy Men and Holy Women" (PDF). Churchofengland.org.
  5. ^ As of 2019, there are 36 "Doctors of the Church", of whom only four are women.
  6. ^ "Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)." Encyclopedia of European Social History. Retrieved April 13, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/international/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/teresa-avila-1515-1582
  7. ^ a b "27 settembre 1970: Proclamazione di Santa Teresa d'Ávila Dottore della Chiesa - Paolo VI". Vatican.va. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  8. ^ "Inmaculada del Viejo". Corazones.org. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  9. ^ Pope John Paul II addressing pilgrims from Avila at the Vatican on 8 October 1981.
  10. ^ Rowan Williams (2004). Teresa of Avila. Continuum Compact Series Outstanding Christian Thinkers (reprint ed.). Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 230. ISBN 9780826473417. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
  11. ^ Schillinger Liesl (26 December 1999). "The Original Flying Nun - Review of Cathleen Medwick's Teresa of Avila: The Progress of a Soul. Knopf". New York Times. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
  12. ^ Foa, Anna (March 2, 2015). "Teresa's 'marrano' grandfather". Osservatore Romano.
  13. ^ Stephen Clissold (1982). St. Teresa of Avila (2 ed.). London: Sheldon. ISBN 0 85969 347 3.
  14. ^ Medwick, Cathleen, Teresa of Avila: The Progress of a Soul, Knopf, 1999 ISBN 0-394-54794-2
  15. ^ Lewis, David (27 September 1904). The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus (3 ed.). London: Gutenberg/Thomas Baker. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
  16. ^ "ST. TERESA OF AVILA :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)". Catholic News Agency.
  17. ^ Zimmerman 1911.
  18. ^ Stephen Clissold (1982). St. Teresa of Avila (2 ed.). London: Sheldon.
  19. ^ Teresa wrote that it must be a cherub (Deben ser los que llaman cherubines), but Fr. Domingo Báñez wrote in the margin that it seemed more like a seraph (mas parece de los que se llaman seraphis), an identification that most editors have followed. Santa Teresa de Ávila. "Libro de su vida". Escritos de Santa Teresa.
  20. ^ Marcella Biro Barton (1982). “Saint Teresa of Avila: Did she have Epilepsy?”, The Catholic Historical Review. Vol. LXVIII, no.4.
  21. ^ Javier Alvarez Rodriguez (2007). Epilepsy and Mysticism. pp. 59–69. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  22. ^ "HISTORY - discalced carmelite order - Contemplative Discalced Carmelite Nuns". Pcn.net. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  23. ^ Kavanaugh, Kieran (1991). "General Introduction: Biographical Sketch". In Kieran Kavanaugh (ed.). The Collected Works of St John of the Cross. Washington: ICS Publications. pp. 9–27. ISBN 978-0-935216-14-1.
  24. ^ a b c d Kavanaugh, Kieran (1991). "General Introduction: Biographical Sketch". In Kieran Kavanaugh (ed.). The Collected Works of St John of the Cross. Washington: ICS Publications. pp. 9–27. ISBN 978-0-935216-14-1.
  25. ^ Salamony, Ryan (2017). "The Compassionate Mother of Carmel: Teresa of Avila and the Carmelite Model for Twenty-First-Century Seekers" (PDF). Goucher College Repository.
  26. ^ 2000 Years of Prayer by Michael Counsell (2004) ISBN 978-1-853-11623-0, p. 207.
  27. ^ "3 ottobre 1970: Proclamazione di Santa Caterina da Siena Dottore della Chiesa - Paolo VI". w2.vatican.va. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  28. ^ a b Clissold Stephen (1982). St Teresa of Avila. London: Sheldon Press. pp. 63–64. ISBN 0 85969 347 3.
  29. ^ "Catechism of the Catholic Church". 1997.
  30. ^ Pedro Ibáñez, La Vida de la Santa Madre Teresa de Jesús, Madrid, 1882; English translation, The Life of S. Teresa of Jesus, London, 1888.
  31. ^ "El Camino de Perfección", Salamanca, 1589; English translation, "The Way of Perfection", London, 1852.
  32. ^ "El Castillo Interior," English translation, "The Interior Castle," London, 1852, comparing the contemplative soul to a castle with seven successive interior courts, or chambers, analogous to the Seven Heavens.
  33. ^ It may have influenced René Descartes, especially his Meditations on First Philosophy
  34. ^ "She Thinks, Therefore I Am". Columbia Magazine. Fall 2017. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  35. ^ Mercer lays out her case in the journal of Philosophical Studies.Mercer, Christia (2017). "Descartes' debt to Teresa of Ávila, or why we should work on women in the history of philosophy". Philosophical Studies. 174 (10): 2539–2555. doi:10.1007/s11098-016-0737-9.
  36. ^ "She thinks, therefore I am". Columbia Magazine. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  37. ^ Bielecki, pp 238-241
  38. ^ Teresa of Avila, 2008 Life of St. Teresa of Jesus ISBN 978-1-60680-041-6, p 246.
  39. ^ Teresa of Ávila. Let Nothing Disturb You: A Journey to the Center of the Soul with Teresa of Avila. Editor John Kirvan. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1996. ISBN 978-0-87793-570-4
  40. ^ Howell, James C. (2009). Introducing Christianity : exploring the Bible, faith, and life (1st ed.). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press. p. 151. ISBN 9780664232979.
  41. ^ "The Journey with Jesus: Poems and Prayers". Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  42. ^ Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (7th ed.). Oxford: OUP. 2009. p. 684. ISBN 9780199237173.
  43. ^ about a French carmelite nun, Marguerite Parigot (1619-1648) and her devotion to the Infant Jesus
  44. ^ ""Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway" Blog - Saint Therese of Lisieux". Thereseoflisieux.org. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  45. ^ Anders Wong. "History of the Infant Jesus of Prague" (TXT). Ewtn.com. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  46. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-11-21. Retrieved 2012-01-14.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  47. ^ Padre Seraphim. "DEVOTIONS & PRAYERS". Devotionsandprayers.blogspot.com. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
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  49. ^ M. Santini: The Holy Infant of Prague. Martin, Prague, 1995
  50. ^ Erin Kathleen Rowe, Saint and Nation: Santiago, Teresa of Avila, and Plural Identities in Early Modern Spain (2011)
  51. ^ Park, Josephine Nock-Hee (2009). "The Orients of Gertrude Stein". College Literature. 36 (3): 28–44. ISSN 0093-3139. JSTOR 20642036.
  52. ^ Tommasini, Anthony (1998). Virgil Thomson: Composer on the Aisle. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 9780393318586.
  53. ^ <http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/10/14/readings-reflections-saturday-of-the-twenty-eighth-week-in-ordinary-time-st-teresa-of-avila-october-152016/>
  54. ^ the track's chart placing (in German)
  55. ^ Jordanova, Ludmilla (2012). "'The Jewel of the Church': Bernini's Ecstasy of St Teresa". The Look of the Past: Visual and Material Evidence in Historical Practice. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 79–94. ISBN 9780521709064.
  56. ^ "Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Teresa | History and Appreciation of Art II". courses.lumenlearning.com. Retrieved 2018-02-28.
  57. ^ Museum of Art History, Vienna
  58. ^ "St. Teresa of Avila – On Love". The Fra Angelico Institute for Sacred Art. 2012-10-15. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  59. ^ de Beauvoir, Simone (2011). The Second Sex. New York, NY: Vintage. p. 729. ISBN 9780307277787.
  60. ^ Lafferty, R.A. (1969). Fourth Mansions. New York: Ace Publishing Company.
  61. ^ Klossowski, Pierre (1998). The Baphomet. ISBN 9781568860565.
  62. ^ Maynard, Lee Anna (2009). Beautiful Boredom: Idleness and Feminine Self-Realization in the Victorian Novel. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. pp. 77–80. ISBN 9780786445554.
  63. ^ Moore, Kevin Z. (1990). The Descent of the Imagination: Postromantic Culture in the Later Novels of Thomas Hardy. NYU Press. ISBN 9780814754511.
  64. ^ Graham, Jorie (1999) [1987]. The End of Beauty. New York City: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-880-01616-2.
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  66. ^ storyline of the Findley novel.
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  68. ^ IMDb listing
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Works by Teresa

About Teresa

This article was originally based on the text in the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge.

Further reading

  • Vita Sackville-West. The Eagle and the Dove, Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, First published in 1943 by Michael Joseph LTD, 26 Bloomsbury Street, London, W.C.1
  • Carolyn A. Greene. Castles in the Sand fiction with cited sources about Teresa of Avila Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2009. ISBN 978-0-9791315-4-7
  • Jean Abiven. 15 Days of Prayer with Saint Teresa of Avila, New City Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1-56548-366-8
  • Gould Levine, Linda; Engelson Marson, Ellen; Feiman Waldman, Gloria, eds. (1993). Spanish Women Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Source Book. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-31326-823-6.
  • Bárbara Mujica, Teresa de Ávila: Lettered Woman, (Nashville, Vanderbilt University Press, 2009).
  • E. Rhodes, "Teresa de Jesus's Book and the Reform of the Religious Man in Sixteenth Century Spain," in Laurence Lux-Sterritt and Carmen Mangion (eds), Gender, Catholicism and Spirituality: Women and the Roman Catholic Church in Britain and Europe, 1200-1900 (Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011),
  • John Thomas, "Ecstasy, art & the body. St. Teresa of Avila's 'Transverberation', and it depiction in the sculpture of Gianlorenzo Bernini" in John Thomas, Happiness, Truth & Holy Images. Essays of Popular Theology and Religion & Art (Wolverhampton, Twin Books, 2019), pp. 12–16.
  • John Thomas, "Architectural image and via mystica. St. Teresa's Las Moradas", in John Thomas, Happiness, Truth & Holy Images. Essays of Popular Theology and Religion & Art (Wolverhampton, Twin Books, 2019), pp. 39–48.

External links

Alba de Tormes

Alba de Tormes is a municipality in the province of Salamanca, western Spain, part of the autonomous community of Castile and León. The town is on the River Tormes upstream from the city of Salamanca. Alba gave its name to one of Spain's most important dukedoms, who had their ancestral seat in the Castillo de los Duques de Alba. St Teresa of Ávila died at a convent she founded in the town and is buried there.

From the 12th to the 19th century, the monastery of San Leonardo was located outside the walls of Alba.

Bjelovar Cathedral

Cathedral of Teresa of Ávila in Bjelovar (Croatian: Katedrala sv. Terezije Avilske u Bjelovaru) is the baroque church of Diocese of Bjelovar-Križevci. It is located in the center of the town of Bjelovar, Croatia, on Eugen Kvaternik Square. Until 2009, when it became a cathedral, it was parish church.In 1761 Czech brothers Hubert and Ignatius Admiring, members of the church order Piarists who have been raising children and adolescents, came to Bjelovar. They found only a small chapel so they decided to build a brand new church.

Foundations were laid on April 10, 1765, and the foundation stone on May 12. The church was built in 1770 and blessed on October 15, 1772 on Day of St. Teresa of Avila. Church tower was built in 1774. Bishop of Zagreb Josip Galjuf blessed the church on October 15, 1775. The church cares about 1000 people. Beneath the church are the underground corridors for burial but there were buried very few people.

The church is named after St. Theresa of Avila, Spanish Saint and Doctor of the Church. She was the patron saint of the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa, which founded Bjelovar in 1756.

The 1880 Zagreb earthquake damaged the church and rectory. The church was rebuilt by the architect Hermann Bollé in 1888, and was rebuilt from the inside in 1896.

The church of St. Teresa was the parish church for the whole town of Bjelovar and the surrounding area until 1980 when two parishes of St. Anthony of Padua and St. Annethey were founded.

One grenade hit the church and killed three women on September 29, 1991, during the armed conflict in Bjelovar between the Croatian Army and JNA. Memorial plaque was erected on the church facade in honor of these three killed woman.

On December 5, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI founded Diocese of Bjelovar-Križevci so the church became a cathedral.

Bridal theology

Within the Christian tradition, bridal theology, also referred to as mystical marriage, is the New Testament portrayal of communion with Jesus as a marriage, and God's reign as a wedding banquet. This tradition in turn traces back to the Old Testament. This theology has influenced the works of Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Ávila, Gregory the Great and Bernard of Clairvaux. A similar concept existed in Valentinian Gnosticism with the notion of the bridal chamber, which involved a marriage to one's heavenly counterpart. Some mystics take this 'marriage' as a symbol of Union with God and hence, no negative connotations are sharpened for orthodox thinkers.

In a cult, originating in the '60s, that is known as The Family International, a particularly radical form of bridal theology is taught: members of the group of both sexes are encouraged to masturbate while visualizing themselves as women having sex with Jesus. This is known within the cult as the "Loving Jesus revelation"; however, it does not accurately reflect mainstream conceptions of bridal theology, and is not accepted beyond the cult of its origin.

Catholic University of Ávila

Saint Teresa of Jesus Catholic University, (Spanish: Universidad Católica Santa Teresa de Jesús de Ávila), commonly known as the Catholic University of Ávila (UCAV), is a private, Catholic university, located in Ávila, Castile and León, Spain. It's named after Saint Teresa of Ávila.

The current rector of the university is Maria Rosario Sáez Yuguero.

Constitutions of the Carmelite Order

The Constitutions of the Carmelite Order stand as an expression of the ideals and spirit of the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Foundational sources for the Constitutions include the desert hermit vocation as exemplified in the life of the Prophet Elijah. For the Carmelite the contemplative vocation is exemplified par excellence in the life of the Virgin Mary, beloved to the Order under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Additionally, the Carmelite Rule of St. Albert and the Book of the First Monks comprise fundamental points of reference in the life and spirituality of the Order.

Between the 13th and 16th centuries the Order lost much of its vigour. The reform led by Teresa of Ávila and John of the Cross restored Carmelite life with a new joy and asceticism. The Discalced Carmelite renewal saw the Constitutions reaffirmed and strengthened. They were again revitalised under the directives of the Second Vatican Council.

Two different approved texts of Constitutions exist today for the Discalced Carmelite Nuns: those approved by Pope John Paul II December 8, 1990, and those approved by Pope John Paul II September 17, 1991. The Carmels under the 1990 Constitutions, many of which are in Spain, are generally more traditional and fall under the direct jurisdiction of the Holy See. Under the 1991 Constitutions, the nuns are associated with the Carmelite friars and fall under the jurisdiction of the Discalced Carmelite Father General.

Convento de las Carmelitas Descalzas de San José, Toledo

The Convento de las Carmelitas Descalzas de San José of Toledo (Castile-La Mancha, Spain) is a monastic building dating from the second half of the 16th century.

The Toledan community of Discalced Carmelites was founded by St. Teresa of Ávila herself. Being the resting house of Saint Teresa in the city.


Gotarrendura is a municipality located in the province of Ávila, Castile and León, Spain. According to the 2011 census (INE), the municipality has a population of 173 inhabitants.

The parents of St. Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582) married in the village and it has been suggested that the saint was born there.

Libido (Brigitte Fontaine album)

Libido is the sixteenth album by experimental French singer Brigitte Fontaine, released in 2006 on the Polydor label. It once again features a collaboration with -M- on the song Mister Mystère, which -M- also sang solo on his fourth album, to which it gave its title. Brigitte Fontaine, for the first time in more than thirty years, calls upon arranger Jean-Claude Vannier for some songs, Barbe à papa and Mendelssohn. The title of Château intérieur comes from a book by Teresa of Ávila, although Fontaine admitted she didn't read it.

List of saints named Teresa

Saints named Teresa include:

Saint Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582), or Teresa of Jesus, Spaniard, founder of the Discalced Carmelites, and Doctor of the Church

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (1873–1897), or Teresa of the Child Jesus, French Discalced Carmelite nun, and Doctor of the Church

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (1891–1942), Discalced Carmelite Nun, born Edith Stein

Saint Teresa of Los Andes (1900–1920), Discalced Carmelite nun, born Juana Fernández del Solar

Saint Thérèse Couderc (1805–1885), co-founder of the Sisters of the Cenacle

Blessed Teresa of Portugal (1181–1250), Benedictine nun

Mother Teresa, Saint Teresa of Calcutta (1910–1997), founder of the Missionaries of Charity

Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart (1747–1770), an Italian Discalced Carmelite nun

Portrait of Francisco de Pisa

Portrait of Francisco de Pisa is a 1614 painting by El Greco, now in the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. Most art historians identify it as doctor Francisco de Pisa, a Spanish cleric, though a minority identify it as the Italian historian Giacomo Bosio due to the words shown in the open book. Francisco de Pisa was an enemy of Teresa of Ávila, who he criticised because he felt that her works contained "much that contradicts truth and sound doctrine and all good use of mental prayer". The pose of the subject is similar to that in Portrait of Cardinal Tavera, which is of a similar date.

Požega Cathedral

Saint Teresa of Ávila Cathedral is a cathedral in Požega, Croatia, and the seat of the Požega diocese. Located near Požega city center and at the foot of the hill where a medieval fortress once stood, this cathedral is a beautiful example of Baroque architecture.

Prayer of Quiet

The Prayer of Quiet is a term from Christian theology. It is regarded by writers on mystical theology as one of the degrees of contemplation or contemplative prayer, and must be distinguished therefore from meditation and from affective prayer. It holds an intermediary place between affective prayer and the Prayer of Union. As the name implies, the Prayer of Quiet is considered a state in which the soul experiences an extraordinary peace and rest, accompanied by delight or pleasure in contemplating God as present.The Prayer of Quiet is discussed in the writings of Teresa of Ávila, Francis de Sales, Thomas Merton and others.

Saint James Matamoros

Saint James the Moor-slayer (Spanish: Santiago Matamoros) is the name given to the representation (painting, sculpture, etc.) of the apostle James, son of Zebedee as a legendary, miraculous figure who appeared at the also legendary Battle of Clavijo, helping the Christians conquer the Muslim Moors. The story was invented centuries after the alleged battle was supposed to have taken place. "Matamoros" is not a name nor an advocation of the saint. Aspects of the historical Battle of Monte Laturce (859) were incorporated into this legend of the battle of Clavijo, as Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz demonstrated in 1948. Historian Jean Mitchell-Lanham says: "While this event is based on legend, the supposed battle has provided one of the strongest ideological icons in the Spanish national identity."In the 17th century, followers of his cult (Santiaguistas) proposed the patronage of Spain under his name, in contrast to those who favored Teresa of Ávila. The Santiaguistas overcame and won this religious debate, naming him the Patron Saint of Spain, until November 1760 when Pope Clement XIII rescinded this honor and officially declared the Immaculate Conception as the patroness of Spain as a country, and installed the historical apostle James as patron of the Spaniards.

Santa Teresa, Turin

The Church of Saint Teresa of Ávila (Italian: Chiesa di Santa Teresa d'Avila) is a Baroque-style church located on Via Santa Teresa, near Piazza San Carlo in Turin, Italy.


Teresa, Theresa and Therese (French: Thérèse) are feminine given names. The name may be derived from the Greek verb θερίζω (therízō), meaning to harvest.

Its popularity likely increased because of the prominence of several Roman Catholic saints, including Teresa of Ávila, Thérèse of Lisieux and, most recently, Mother Teresa.

The popularity of this name in the United States over the last 15 years is falling, according to the US Census. Spelled "Theresa," it was ranked as the 852nd most popular name for girls born in 2008, down from 226th in 1992 (it ranked 65th in 1950, and 102nd in 1900). Spelled "Teresa," it was the 580th most popular name for girls born in 2008, down from 206th in 1992 (it ranked 81st in 1950, and 220th in 1900).

The Interior Castle

The Interior Castle, or The Mansions, (Spanish: El Castillo Interior or Las Moradas) was written by St. Teresa of Ávila, O.C.D., the Spanish Carmelite nun and famed mystic, in 1577 as a guide for spiritual development through service and prayer. Inspired by her vision of the soul as a diamond in the shape of a castle containing seven mansions, which she interpreted as the journey of faith through seven stages, ending with union with God.After being ordered to write her autobiography, published posthumously as La Vida de la Santa Madre Teresa de Jesús (The Life of the Holy Mother Teresa of Jesus), Teresa was hesitant to begin writing again on her views of the perfection found in internal prayer. She started writing her seminal work, Interior Castle, on June 2, 1577, Trinity Sunday, and completed it on the eve of St. Andrew's Day, November 29, 1577; however, there was a five months-long interruption in between, effectively leaving a fortnight each for first and second halves of the book. In August 1586, it was decided to print Teresa's works, which had been collected and preserved by her secretary, the Venerable Ana of Jesus, O.C.D. The Augustinian friar and poet Luis de León, O.E.S.A., was selected as the editor, and finally in 1588 the book was published at Salamanca.The books The Interior Castle and The Way of Perfection, taken collectively, are practical blueprints for "seekers" who want to really experience prayer as mystical union with God. Further, Teresa's exposure of how she was blessed with contemplation illuminates the Catholic theologies of grace, the sacraments, humility and ultimately love.

Villanueva de la Jara

Villanueva de la Jara, popularly called La Jara, is a town and municipality in the Manchuela Conquense cormarca, this in turn is part of the La Manchuela comarca, province of Cuenca, in Castile-La Mancha, Spain. It is known for the cultivation of portobellos which is the main economic activity of the locality and other edible fungis.

Way of Perfection

The Way of Perfection (Spanish: Camino de Perfección) is a 1577 book and a method for making progress in the contemplative life written by St. Teresa of Ávila, the noted Discalced Carmelite nun for the members of the reformed monastery of the Order she had founded.

Teresa was a major figure of the Counter-Reformation in 16th-century Spain, and eventually was named a Doctor of the Church, while her work became a classic text in Christian spirituality and mysticism, especially in the realms of prayer in Christianity and Spanish Renaissance literature.

Teresa called this a "living book" and in it set out to teach her nuns how to progress through prayer and Christian meditation. She discusses the rationale for being a Carmelite, and the rest deals with the purpose of and approaches to spiritual life.

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