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St. Teresa of Avila

St. Teresa of Avila by Br. Arturo Olivas, OFS

Artist's Narrative:

Born in Avila, Spain, on March 28, 1515, St. Teresa was the daughter of a Toledo merchant and his second wife, who died when Teresa was 15, one of ten children. Shortly after this event, Teresa was entrusted to the care of the Augustinian nuns. After reading the letters of St. Jerome, Teresa resolved to enter a religious life. In 1535, she joined the Carmelite Order. She spent a number of relatively average years in the convent, punctuated by a severe illness that left her legs paralyzed for three years, but then experienced a vision of "the sorely wounded Christ" that changed her life forever.

From this point forward, Teresa moved into a period of increasingly ecstatic experiences in which she came to focus more and more sharply on Christ's passion. With these visions as her impetus, she set herself to the reformation of her order, beginning with her attempt to master herself and her adherence to the rule. Gathering a group of supporters, Teresa endeavored to create a more primitive type of Carmelite. From 1560 until her death, Teresa struggled to establish and broaden the movement of Discalced or shoeless Carmelites.

Her feast day is October 15.

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Teresa was a Spanish noble, the daughter of Don Alonso Sanchez de Cepeda and Dona Beatriz. She grew up reading the lives of the saints, and playing at "hermit" in the garden. Crippled by disease in her youth, which led to her being well educated at home, she was cured after prayer to St. Joseph. Her mother died when Teresa was 12, and she prayed to Our Lady to be her replacement. Her father opposed her entry to religious life, so she left home without telling anyone, and entered a Carmelite house at 17. Seeing her conviction to her call, her father and family consented. Soon after taking her vows, Teresa became gravely ill, and her condition was aggravated by the inadquate medical help she received; she never fully recovered her health. She began receiving visions, and was examined by Domnicans and Jesuits, including St. St. Francis Borgia, who pronounced the visions to be holy and true. She considered her original house too lax in its rule, so she founded a reformed convent of St. John of Avila. She founded several houses, often against fierce opposition from local authorities. Teresa was a mystical writer. She was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on September 27, 1970 by Pope Paul VI.

Born: March 28,1515 as Teresa Sanchez Cepeda Davila y Ahumada at Avila, Castile, Spain

Died: October 4, 1582

Beatified: April 24, 1614

Canonized: March 12,1622


God, deliver me from sullen saints.
—Saint Teresa of Avila

Oh my Lord! How true it is that whoever works for you is paid in troubles! And what a precious price to those who love you if we understand its value.
—Saint Teresa of Avila

There is no such thing as bad weather. All weather is good because it is God's.
—Saint Teresa of Avila

There is more value in a little study of humility and in a single act of it than in all the knowledge in the world.
—Saint Teresa of Avila

We need no wings to go in search of Him, but have only to look upon Him present within us.
—Saint Teresa of Avila

Let nothing trouble you, let nothing make you afraid. All things pass away. God never changes. Patience obtains everything. God alone is enough.
—Saint Teresa of Avila