Teresa of Ávila

Physician, Author

1515 – 1582


Who was Teresa of Ávila?

Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, baptized as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada, was a prominent Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic saint, Carmelite nun, an author of the Counter Reformation and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. She was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered to be a founder of the Discalced Carmelites along with John of the Cross.

In 1622, forty years after her death, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV and on 27 September 1970, was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI. Her books, which include her autobiography and her seminal work El Castillo Interior are an integral part of Spanish Renaissance literature as well as Christian mysticism and Christian meditation practices as she entails in her other important work, Camino de Perfección.

After her death, the cult of Saint Teresa was also known in Spain during the 1620s due to the religious claim and debate of national patronage versus Saint James Matamoros. Teresa's younger brother, Rodrigo Cepeda y Ahumada later brought a Santero image of the Immaculate Conception of El Viejo now widely venerated among Nicaraguan Catholics.

Famous Quotes:

  • To reach something good it is very useful to have gone astray, and thus acquire experience.
  • We know only that we are living in these bodies and have a vague idea, because we have heard it, and because our faith tells us so, that we possess souls. As to what good qualities there may be in our souls, or who dwells within them, or how precious they are, those are things which seldom consider and so we trouble little about carefully preserving the soul's beauty.
  • Learn to self-conquest, persevere thus for a time, and you will perceive very clearly the advantage which you gain from it. As soon you apply yourself to orison, you will at once feel your senses gather themselves together: they seem like bees which return to the hive and there shut themselves up to work at the making of honey. At the first call of the will, they come back more and more quickly. At last, after countless exercises, of this kind, God disposes them to a state of utter rest and of perfect contemplation.
  • To have courage for whatever comes in life -- everything lies in that.
  • O my God, what must a soul be like when it is in this state! It longs to be all one tongue with which to praise the Lord. It utters a thousand pious follies, in a continuous endeavor to please Him who thus possesses it.
  • Do not dismayed daughters, at the number of things which you have to consider before setting out on this divine journey, which is the royal road to heaven. By taking this road we gain such precious treasures that it is no wonder if the cost seems to us a high one. The time will come when we shall realize that all we have paid has been nothing at all by comparison with the greatness of our prizes.
  • Be gentle to all, and stern with yourself.
  • It is here, my daughters, that love is to be found -- not hidden away in corners but in the midst of occasions of sin. And believe me, although we may more often fail and commit small lapses, our gain will be incomparably the greater.
  • There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers.
  • We can only learn to know ourselves and do what we can -- namely, surrender our will and fulfill God's will in us.

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Mar 28, 1515
Also known as
  • Teresa of Avila
  • St. Theresa of Avila
  • Saint Teresa of Jesus
  • Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada
  • Teresa von Avila
  • Catholicism
  • Castilian people
  • Spain
Oct 4, 1582
Alba de Tormes

on July 23, 2013


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