SAINT TERESA OF JESUS, our
Patroness, was born at Avila, Old Castile, on 28th March, 1515. Born of a
great Spanish family, her name was Teresa Sanchez Cepeda D'Avila y Ahumada.
She was brought up by her saintly father and by a tender, pious mother.
Her mother died when Teresa was twelve years old.
Teresa was a very talented girl and, at eighteen, a
striking Spanish beauty. She decided to become a nun but was unable
to obtain her father's consent. When she was twenty she left his
house, unbeknown to him, to join the Carmelite Convent of Avila. Her
father relented and she was professed the following year.
God called her to be a saint early in her religious
life, but she did not respond fully to this first call. During many
years of trials and suffering, her perseverance in prayer and meditation
on the Holy Bible prepared her soul for loving, eager response to the
promptings of the Holy Spirit.
In 1562, at the age of forty-seven, she began her
reform of the Carmelite Order with the founding of the first convent of
strict observance in Avila. Some dozen foundations followed in rapid
succession, all over Spain. Her books, written largely for the
guidance of her new religious sisters, are full of deep spiritual insight
and a rare degree of practical common sense. It is said that only
the Confessions of St. Augustine are comparable to them, and, to this day,
they are read widely as spiritual classics.
Teresa died on the 4th October, 1582 (the following
day, owing to the correction of the calendar, being calculated as the 15th
October) at Alba de Tormes, where her incorrupt body and heart are
enshrined. After the usual searching investigation of her life and
writings, she was declared to have been a saint on earth and canonized by
Pope Gregory XV in 1622. Her feast is commemorated on the 15th
St. Teresa Pray for Us!