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Teresa Sanchez Cepeda Davila y Ahumada
Born at Avila, Old Castile, 28 March, 1515
Died at Alba de Tormes, 4 October, 1582   

 

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St Teresa Prayer Card


The third child of Don Alonso Sanchez de Cepeda by his second wife, Doña Beatriz Davila y Ahumada, who died when the saint was in her fourteenth year, Teresa was brought up by her saintly father, a lover of serious books, and a tender and pious mother.

After her death and the marriage of her eldest sister, Teresa was sent for her education to the Augustinian nuns at Avila, but owing to illness she left at the end of eighteen months, and for some years remained with her father and occasionally with other relatives, notably an uncle who made her acquainted with the Letters of St. Jerome, which determined her to adopt the religious life, not so much through any attraction towards it, as through a desire of choosing the safest course.

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Unable to obtain her father’s consent she left his house unknown to him on Nov., 1535, to enter the Carmelite Convent of the Incarnation at Avila, which then counted 140 nuns. The wrench from her family caused her a pain which she ever afterwards compared to that of death. However, her father at once yielded and Teresa took the habit.

Incorrupt arm of St Teresa

After her profession in the following year she became very seriously ill, and underwent a prolonged cure and such unskillful medical treatment that she was reduced to a most pitiful state, and even after partial recovery through the intercession of St. Joseph, her health remained permanently impaired.

During these years of suffering she began the practice of mental prayer, but fearing that her conversations with some world-minded relatives, frequent visitors at the convent, rendered her unworthy of the graces God bestowed on her in prayer, discontinued it, until she came under the influence, first of the Dominicans, and afterwards of the Jesuits.

Stone that St Teresa sat onMeanwhile God had begun to visit her with “intellectual visions and locutions”, that is manifestations in which the exterior senses were in no way affected, the things seen and the words heard being directly impressed upon her mind, and giving her wonderful strength in trials, reprimanding her for unfaithfulness, and consoling her in trouble.

Unable to reconcile such graces with her shortcomings, which her delicate conscience represented as grievous faults, she had recourse not only to the most spiritual confessors she could find, but also to some saintly laymen, who, never suspecting that the account she gave them of her sins was greatly exaggerated, believed these manifestations to be the work of the evil spirit.

The more she endeavored to resist them the more powerfully did God work in her soul. The whole city of Avila was troubled by the reports of the visions of this nun. It was reserved to St. Francis Borgia and St. Peter of Alcantara, and afterwards to a number of Dominicans (particularly Pedro Ibañez and Domingo Bañez), Jesuits, and other religious and secular priests, to discern the work of God and to guide her on a safe road.

 

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Her incorrupt body above the main altar in Alba de Tormes

 

The account of her spiritual life contained in the “Life written by herself” (completed in 1565, an earlier version being lost), in the“Relations”, and in the “Interior Castle”, forms one of the most remarkable spiritual biographies with which only the “Confessions of St. Augustine” can bear comparison.

To this period belong also such extraordinary manifestations as the piercing or transverberation of her heart, the spiritual espousals, and the mystical marriage.

A vision of the place destined for her in hell in case she should have been unfaithful to grace, determined her to seek a more perfect life.

After many troubles and much opposition St. Teresa founded the convent of Discalced Carmelite Nuns of the Primitive Rule of St. Joseph at Avila (24 Aug., 1562), and after six months obtained permission to take up her residence there.

Items used by St Teresa

Four years later she received the visit of the General of the Carmelites, John-Baptist Rubeo (Rossi), who not only approved of what she had done but granted leave for the foundation of other convents of friars as well as nuns.

In rapid succession she established her nuns at Medina del Campo (1567), Malagon and Valladolid (1568), Toledo and Pastrana (1569), Salamanca (1570), Alba de Tormes (1571), Segovia (1574), Veas and Seville (1575), and Caravaca (1576).

In the “Book of Foundations” she tells the story of these convents, nearly all of which were established in spite of violent opposition but with manifest assistance from above.

Everywhere she found souls generous enough to embrace the austerities of the primitive rule of Carmel. Having made the acquaintance of Antonio de Heredia, prior of Medina, and St. John of the Cross (q.v.), she established her reform among the friars (28 Nov., 1568), the first convents being those of Duruelo (1568), Pastrana (1569), Mancera, and Alcalá de Henares (1570). 

A new epoch began with the entrance into religion of Jerome Gratian, inasmuch as this remarkable man was almost immediately entrusted by the nuncio with the authority of visitor Apostolic of the Carmelite friars and nuns of the old observance in Andalusia, and as such considered himself entitled to overrule the various restrictions insisted upon by the general and the general chapter.

On the death of the nuncio and the arrival of his successor a fearful storm burst over St. Teresa and her work, lasting four years and threatening to annihilate the nascent reform. The incidents of this persecution are best described in her letters.

The storm at length passed, and the province of Discalced Carmelites, with the support of Philip II, was approved and canonically established on 22 June, 1580.

St. Teresa, old and broken in health, made further foundations at Villnuava de la Jara and Palencia (1580), Soria (1581), Granada (through her assiatant the Venerable Anne of Jesus), and at Burgos (1582).

She left this latter place at the end of July, and, stopping at Palencia, Valldolid, and Medina del Campo, reached Alba de Torres in September, suffering intensely. Soon she took to her bed and passed away on 4 Oct., 1582, the following day, owing to the reform of the calendar, being reckoned as 15 October.

After some years her body was transferred to Avila, but later on reconveyed to Alba, where it is still preserved incorrupt. Her heart, too, showing the marks of the Transverberation, is exposed there to the veneration of the faithful. She was beatified in 1614, and canonized in 1622 by Gregory XV, the feast being fixed on 15 October.

St Teresa incorrupt heart

St. Teresa’s position among writers on mystical theology is unique.

In all her writings on this subject she deals with her personal experiences, which a deep insight and analytical gifts enabled her to explain clearly.

The Thomistic substratum may be traced to the influence of her confessors and directors, many of whom belonged to the Dominican Order.

She herself had no pretension to found a school in the accepted sense of the term, and there is no vestige in her writings of any influence of the Aeropagite, the Patristic, or the Scholastic Mystical schools, as represented among others, by the German Dominican Mystics.

She is intensely personal, her system going exactly as far as her experiences, but not a step further.

 

Room where St Teresa died

 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for August 25, 2019

When you are sick, offer to Christ our Lord all your pains,...

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August 25

 

When you are sick, offer to Christ our Lord
all your pains, suffering, and your languor, and beseech Him
to unite them to those He bore for you.

St. Francis de Sales


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Louis IX of France

He built the shrine of Sainte-Chapelle, one of the most beau...

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St. Louis IX of France

In Louis IX of France were united the qualities of a just and upright sovereign, a fearless warrior, and a saint. This crusader king was a living embodiment of the medieval noble: he lived for the welfare of his subjects and the glory of God.

Born on April 25, 1214 at Poissy, near Paris, Louis never forgot the piety of his upbringing as it had been instilled in him by his mother, Queen Blanche of Castille. At his coronation in Rheims at the age of twelve, Louis asked of God courage, light, and strength to use his authority well, to uphold the divine honor, defend the Church, and serve the good of his people. In May, 1234 the young King married Marguerite, the eldest daughter of the Count of Provence, who bore him eleven children.

Louis did all he could to promote and inspire of a Christian culture. He gave encouragement and aid to the religious orders and often assisted in settling and housing them. Deeply religious, he loved to listen to sermons, heard two Masses daily, and often joined in singing the Divine Office. But, although he sought the company of the wise and experienced among the clergy and other ranks, he did not hesitate to oppose its members when they proved unworthy.

Ambitious to make France foremost among Christian nations, Louis was overjoyed at the opportunity to acquire the Crown of Thorns and other holy relics from the Eastern Emperor at Constantinople. He sent two Dominican friars to bring these sacred objects to France, and, attended by an impressive entourage, he met them at Sens upon their return. To house the relics, he built the shrine of Sainte-Chapelle, one of the most beautiful examples of Gothic architecture in existence.

After recovering from a violent fever in 1244, Louis announced his long-cherished intention of undertaking a crusade to the East and set out from Paris on his first crusade on June 12, 1248. However, plagued with trouble after a seemingly promising start, Louis himself, weakened by dysentery, was taken prisoner in April, 1250, and his army routed.
After six years in captivity, he was released and returned to France to resume his sovereign role. He was involved intimately in the lives of his people. He had a passion for justice, and changed the "King's court" of his ancestors into a popular court, where, seated in his palace or under a spreading oak in the forest of Vincennes, he listened to any of his subjects who came with grievances and gave to them wise and impartial judgments.

In 1267, Louis once more determined to go on another crusade. His people objected, fearing they would lose their excellent and revered ruler, who, though only fifty-two years old, was worn with toil, illness, and austerities. Louis was determined though, and set sail on July 1, 1270, heading for Tunis. The crusade was a dismal failure. Dysentery and other diseases broke out among the crusaders, and Louis soon contracted the disease to which he succumbed on August 15. His bones and heart were taken back to France and kept enshrined in the abbey-church of St. Denis, until they were scattered at the time of the French Revolution.

He was canonized by Pope Boniface VIII in 1297.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

While visiting a home in Ohio, I heard an amazing story abo...

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A Timely Response to Our Lady’s Request

While visiting a home in Ohio, I heard an amazing story about the First Five Saturday devotion that Our Lady requested at Fatima. She asked all Catholics to make reparation to her on the first Saturday of five consecutive months by going to confession, praying at least one rosary, making a fifteen minute meditation and receiving Communion. Our Lady promised that she would “…assist them at the hour of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation.”   

The family, of good practicing Catholics, decided to take up the devotion. However, as it often happens when one sets out to do God’s will, all kinds of obstacles run into our path. On the Friday preceding the first Saturday they had a car accident. On the Saturday some were called to their jobs and some children fell ill. However, all still managed to fulfill Our Lady’s devotion requests, including the father.

Their resolution to do Our Lady’s request could not have been timelier. After completing the five month devotion, the father became extremely sick. Doctors found that he had cancer in an advanced stage and only had a few days to live.

The family asked their fellow parishioners for prayers and Masses in his intentions. Many family members began a round-the-clock vigil praying the rosary around his bed. For a whole week, those faithful prayer warriors continued to give him spiritual and psychological support with their generous vigil.

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Through all the suffering, the completion of the 5 First Saturday devotion was a continuous source of consolation to the father and family. “I will see you in heaven,” he reassured his children. Shortly before his death a priest gave him last rites and he peaceably surrendered his soul to the Lord.

By Godofredo Santos

 

While visiting a home in Ohio, I heard an amazing story about the First Five Saturday devotion that Our Lady requested at Fatima. She asked all Catholics to make reparation to her on the first Saturday of five consecutive months by going to confession, praying at least one rosary,

 

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