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 October.