October 15, 2014
St Teresa of Avila (1515 - 1582)
On October 15, Roman Catholics celebrate the Spanish Carmelite reformer and mystic St. Teresa of Avila, whose life of prayer enriched the Church during the 16th century counter-reformation.
As a child, Teresa felt captivated by the thought of eternity and the vision of God granted to the saints in heaven. When Teresa was 14, her mother died. At the age of 16, she joined the Carmelite Order. Teresa became a professed member of the order at age 20, but soon developed a serious illness that forced her to return home. She experienced severe pain and physical paralysis for two years, and was expected to die when she went into a coma for four days. However, she returned to the Convent, as soon as she was able, even though she remained in a painful state.
Teresa had always been accustomed to contemplate Christ's presence within her after receiving him in the sacrament of Holy Communion. God was, in fact, with her always, and had been all along.
Together with her close collaborator, Saint John of the Cross, she founded the Order of Discalced Carmelites. The reform met with fierce opposition, but resulted in the founding of 30 monasteries during her life.
St. Teresa of Avila died on October 15, 1582. She was canonized on March 22, 1622, along with three of her greatest contemporaries: St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, and St. Philip Neri.
In 1970, Pope Paul VI proclaimed St. Teresa as one of the first two women Doctors of the Church, along with 14th century Dominican St. Catherine of Siena.