St. Teresa of Avila

1515-1582

St. Teresa of AvilaSt. Teresa was born in Avila, Spain, in 1515, the daughter of a Toledo merchant and his second wife, who died when Teresa was 15. Shortly after this event, Teresa, one of 10 children, was entrusted to the care of the Augustinian nuns. After reading the letters of St. Jerome, Teresa resolved to enter into religious life. In 1535, she joined the Carmelite Order. When she set herself to the reformation of her Order, she met with much resistance but succeeded with undaunted courage to create a more basic type of Carmelite life called the Discalced (“shoeless”) Carmelites. St. Teresa left to posterity many new convents that she continued founding up to the year of her death in 1582. She also left a significant legacy of profound and poetic writings that are important benchmarks in the history of Christian mysticism. These works include the Way of Perfection, the Interior Castle as well as her autobiography, one of the great classics in Christian literature. In 1970, Pope Paul VI recognized Teresa for her profound writing as the first woman Doctor of the Church, and she took her place alongside such great names as St. Augustine and St. Jerome.