Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Teresa of Avila

'Saint Teresa'
by François Gérard

Been reading a bit about Teresa of Avila, because it's All Saints Day.
Teresa of Avila was a Spanish mystic. When she was a kid she wanted to run away from home so she could get martyred:

I used to discuss with my brother ways and means of becoming martyrs, and we agreed to go together to the land of the Moors, begging our way for the love of God, so that we might be beheaded there.
In 1534 she did run away from home and became a nun. She was often sick. While she was sick she would experience periods of spiritual ecstacy. Around 1556, her friends came to believe that she was possessed by demons. They managed to convince Teresa, and for a long time she tortured herself because of this.
Begining in 1559, she experienced vision of Jesus that lasted two years. Another of her visions involved an angel repeatedly stabbing her in the heart with a burning spear.
Teresa of Avila, along with Juan de la Cruz played an important role in the reformation of the Carmelite monastic order. She founded many convents and monastaries which aimed to restore the original monastic ideals of poverty. The Spanish Inquisition didn't like this very much, and eventually forced her to 'retire' to one of her convents.
During the final years of her life she gained favor with Pope Gregory XIII. She managed to open another four convents in the last three years of her life. She died in 1582.

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