St. Teresa of Avila
“Wonderful indeed it is, how pleasing to Our Lord is any service, which is done to his Mother.”
Saint Teresa was born in Avila, Spain, on March 28, 1515. She is known for reforming the Carmelite Order and for her writings about prayer. Her devotion to Mary began when she was little. It grew at her mother’s death, when St. Teresa asked the Virgin Mary to be her mother, seeing as how she did not have a mother on earth anymore. The inspiration of reforming the Carmelites came about after her own personal “conversion.” When she was young she felt a great interior attraction to holy things. However, she was also fascinated by the world, and found herself in great danger. Her father decided to put her in the Santa Maria de la Gracia boarding school when she was 16 years old. During that time, she felt the call to religious life and in 1535 she entered the Carmelite convent of the Incarnation in Avila. A short time after professing her vows, she fell ill and her father brought her out of the convent. She recovered from the illness, but suffered from certain consequences of it the rest of her life. During her long recovery she learned to do the prayer of recollection by reading several spiritual books, like The Third Spiritual Alphabet. She felt the call to solitude and silence, and found herself in a time of personal battle with her weakness and sins. She had an experience in Lent of 1554 that left a mark on her soul. While praying in front of an image of the wounded Christ, she felt moved and with tears implored that He give her strength so as not to offend Him anymore. After this, she felt such a great desire to live in a state of perfection that the reformation of the Carmelites came about. She spoke about her desires to her confessor. After some time, she was able to found the Convent of St. Joseph in Avila. An intense time of founding and writing activity began for Teresa. She opened 17 convents, the last being Burgos. On the way back from that foundation, she traveled to Alba de Tormes, Salamanca, where she died on the night of October 15, 1582.