St. Teresa of Avila
By: Erin Jones
Teresa of Avila was born in Avila, Spain on March 28, 1515 as a daughter of a merchant. As a child Teresa and her brother Rodrigo loved to read the lives of the saints and martyrs. They felt that the martyrs got to heaven an easy way. The two children set out secretly to go to the land of the Moors. As they walked along, they prayed that they might die for Christ. But they had not gotten far when they met an uncle. He took them back to their worried mother. Next the children decided to be hermits in their garden. This didn't work out either. They could not get enough stones together to build their huts. St. Teresa herself wrote down these amusing stories of her childhood. But when she grew to be a teenager, however, she changed. Teresa read so many novels and foolish romances that she lost much of her love for prayer. She began to think more of dressing up to look pretty. She was known as being very beautiful. Teresa was only twelve when her mother died, leaving behind ten children. After loosing her own mother, Teresa looked to the Blessed Virgin Mary as her mother. In 1531, Teresa was sent to the Augustinian nuns of Avila for her education. She started reading the Letters of Jerome and they led her to pursue religious life. So at age 20, Teresa joined the Carmelite Convent of the Incarnation at Avila. Teresa fell ill with malaria and was paralyzed for three years and was never completely well. Instead of helping her spirituality, her sickness became an excuse to stop her prayer. But eventually her prayer life deepened and she began to have visions and a vivid sense of the presence of God, and was converted into a life of complete devotion. Teresa decided to undertake the establishment of a reformed convent that would be restored to the devotion of earlier times. In 1562, Teresa received approval for a new foundation, the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of the Primitive Rule of Saint Joseph, at Avila, which she began...
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