Saint Teresa of Avila, mystic, Carmelite reformer, and Doctor of the Church, is one of the greatest people to ever walk the face of the Earth—and even one of the greatest saints. Her position as a spiritual master is uncontested and, as her Autobiography will attest, her life was one of astounding sanctity and humility.
Born to a pious family in 1515, she grew up fascinated with the faith. A popular anecdote from her youth tells of an impromptu escapade with her brother: they attempted to flee to Africa to be martyred by Moors, only to be brought back from the city walls by their uncle. Teresa later joined the Carmelites at 20, but found their practices to be lacking in austerity. She herself was zealous in mortification, and frequently exerted herself to the point of illness. Upon recovery after a particularly long convalescence, she began to experience religious ecstasies, which continued throughout her life. She experienced interior visions (i.e. without sensory manifestation) of Our Lord, levitations, and other graces, including the famous transverberation, where her heart was mystically pierced by a lance borne by a seraph.
But Teresa's principle work in life was to reform the Carmelites; she traveled all about Spain establishing new convents and, with St. John of the Cross, men's monasteries. Throughout all of her reform work, her attitude was joyful, saintly, and profoundly charismatic. The same personality shines through in her works on mystical theology, all of which are masterpieces, but the greatest of which is The Interior Castle, a guide of the spiritual journey of the soul through seven "mansions" of spiritual progress. The Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila is an astounding work by an astounding saint, a highly detailed and immensely useful look at the interior life of the mistress of the interior castle, a saint beyond compare in mystical wisdom. Let that wisdom pierce your heart too, through the words of these pages.
- St. Teresa of Avila
- Edward van Speybrouck
- TAN Books
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