Though her Feast day is celebrated today (October 15), throughout 2015, we’ve been celebrating the 500th anniversary of the birth of a pioneer in the spiritual life: mystic, saint and Carmelite nun, Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582). Also known as Teresa of Jesus, she was not only one of the giants of Spanish literature, she was a religious reformer and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer.
Her books, which include her autobiography The Life of Teresa of Jesus and her seminal work The Interior Castle, are an integral part of Spanish Renaissance literature as well as Christian mysticism and Christian meditation practices.
In 1622, forty years after her death, Teresa was canonized by Pope Gregory XV. A small but powerful woman, Teresa had an outsized effect on the Church in her day, and her influence has only grown over time. Along with Catherine of Siena, she was named a Doctor of the Church in 1970–the first two women ever to receive this honor. Carmelite, Therese of Lisieux was the third–and only other–woman to receive this designation.
The house in Avila where Teresa of Jesus was born is now a Discalced Carmelite monastery. The Carmelites there have created an online interactive tour of the monastery’s church, chapel and choir here.
Click below for some examples of Teresa’s wisdom.