Teresa of Avila, St. (1515-1582)
St. Teresa of Avila was a Carmelite nun and a Spanish mystic. She is also known as "St. Teresa of Jesus" or the "Great St. Teresa" to distinguish her from another Carmelite nun, St. Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897) known as "The Little Flower. St. Teresa of Avila is a very much-loved contemplative Catholic saint She was Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada, a child of a noble family, born on March 28, 1515 at Avila in Castile. Her mother died when she was fifteen. This event upset her so much that her father sent her to an Augustinian convent in Avila. Her father brought her home after a year and a half when she became ill. After being exposed to monastic life she wished to become a nun, which her father forbade as long as he was living. At the age or twenty or twenty-one she secretly left home and entered the Incarnation of the Carmelite nuns in Avila, after which her father dropped his opposition. Much of St. Teresa's life was plagued by illness. In 1538 it appears she suffered from malaria when her father took her from the convent and placed her under doctors care. Despite of this she remained ill and undertook experimental cures by a woman in the town of Becedas. These methods left her in a coma for three days and not able to walk for three years. It was during this time of illness and convalescence that she took to daily mental prayer, which led to her experiences with mystical prayer. She credited her recovery to St. Joseph. St. Teresa never sought out the mystical experiences that she experienced, but resigned herself to God's will and considers the experiences a divine blessing. She spent long hours in meditation that she called the "prayer of quiet" and the "prayer of union." During such prayers she frequently went into a trance, and at times entered upon mystical flights in which she would feel as if her soul were lifted out of her body. She said ecstasy was like a "detachable death" and her soul became awake to God as never...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document