St. Teresa of Avila

Julie Lonneman

Artist's Narrative:
Teresa grew up in a noble Spanish household. As a child, she loved the lives of the saints, and when she was seven, she convinced her little brother Rodrigo to run away from home with her so that they could become martyrs in the land of the Moors. Eventually she entered a Carmelite monastery over the initial objection of her father.

Soon after taking her vows, Teresa became gravely ill and never fully recovered her health. For the next twenty years, she found prayer difficult and realized something was missing in her spiritual life. In 1554, while at prayer before a statue of Christ, Teresa experienced a conversion. She began receiving visions, but was ridiculed when she shared her mystical experiences.

Considering her order too lax in its rule, she founded several houses of her own reform, the Discalced Carmelites. She often encountered fierce opposition from local authorities. The sisters lived lives of poverty, manual labor, fasting and solitude. Teresa is also well known for her spiritual writings, including The Interior Castle. In 1970 she was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church.

Spain, 1515-1582.

Her feast day is October 15.


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