St. Teresa of Avila is sometimes called the “second founder” or the reformer of Carmel. She was born in 16th century Spain and became a religious in the Carmelite Monastery of the Incarnation in Avila. Early on she displayed a zeal for God and his glory.
Convincing her younger brother that they should run away to the land of the Moors in order to be martyred for Christ. Her uncle found them on the road and brought them back home, but St. Teresa’s thirst for martyrdom and a missionary apostolate continued all her life.
It was this, ultimately, that led her to reform the Carmelite Monasteries in Spain. She had many visions and mystical experiences in her prayer, and for this reason, she suffered greatly from being misunderstood by her spiritual directors and confessors. But eventually, her sufferings bore great fruit, nurturing in her a profound knowledge of God and of His work for the sanctification of souls. She gained a deep understanding of human nature and was able to guide souls on their spiritual journey. She received an inspiration from Our Lord Himself to found a Monastery that would follow more closely the Primitive Rule, which had become lax over past centuries, and did so despite much opposition. The first Discalced Carmelite Monastery of St. Joseph was founded in 1562. She went on to found a total of fourteen Discalced Monasteries, and collaborated closely with St. John of the Cross to reform the Carmelite friars as well.
She a woman of strong character and winning personality. She wrote against “sad-faced Saints,” insisting on cheerfulness in her daughters even amidst the worst of circumstances. She wrote many important works for her daughters and the Order of Carmel. The Constitutions, a more detailed explanation of the rule, gave the new Carmelites a strict rule of life. She wrote many other works on prayer and the spiritual life, meriting her the title of Doctor of the Church. She died at the age of 67. She was beatified in 1614, canonized in 1622, and her feast day occurs on 15th October.
More can be read about St. Teresa of Avila and her spirituality in our past newsletters.
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