Saint Teresa was born in Avila, Spain in 1515. Her family were wealthy converts from the Jewish faith. She was a charming, talented and intelligent girl and she entered the Carmelite convent at Avila on her 15th Birthday. She was pious and devout but until her fourtieth birthday she suffered great aridity in prayer and spiritual torments as well as apalling ill health.
When this period came to an end Teresa was blessed with mystical experiences. She made great progress in the ‘way of perfection’ which is contemplative prayer.
She reformed the Carmelite Order and her religious foundation are known as ‘Discalced’ (meaning ‘shoeless’, another term for poverty) or Teresian Carmelites (ODC). At one stage her spiritual confessor was St. John of the Cross, whom she encouraged to reform the Carmelite Friars.
She wrote two great works, rightly called spiritual classics - The Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle . She worked tirelessly at reformation and in founding new communities. She travelled the roads of spain for nearly twenty years, always working tirelessly at spiritual guidance, pastoral care, founding convents and advising bishops and Popes. There is a story that one day, as she was being transported in a small dog-cart, the wheel broke and she was flung out into the mud. Cleaning herself as best she could she was heard to pray to Jesus: "Lord, if this is what you do to your friends, then may you have mercy on your enemies.
At the time of her death in Alba in 1582 she had established 18 communities for women.
She was Canonised in 1622 and became a Doctor of the Church in 1970. Pope Pius X observed that anyone who had read the Gospels and Saint Teresa’s two books would need no other guide to Holiness.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel - Pray for us
Saint Teresa of Avila - pray for us.
Almighty God, Our Father,
You sent Saint Teresa of Avila
To be a witness in the Church
To the way of perfection.
Sustain us by her spiritual doctrine,
and kindle in us the longing for true holiness.
We make our prayer through Our Lord.