Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Saint Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church

October 15

Saint Teresa of Avila (also known as Theresa of Avila; The Roving Nun; Teresa of Jesus; Teresa de Avila) was born in 1515 A.D. as Teresa Sanchez Cepeda Davila y Ahumada at Avila, at Castile, Spain. Teresa was a Spanish noble, the daughter of Don Alonso Sanchez de Cepeda and Doña Beatriz. She grew up reading the lives of the saints, and playing at "hermit" in the garden. 

She was crippled by disease in her youth, which led to her being well educated at home. She was cured of her affliction after prayer to Saint Joseph. Her mother died when Teresa was 12, and she prayed to Our Lady to be her replacement. Her father opposed her entry to religious life, so she left home without telling anyone, and entered a Carmelite house at the age of 17. Seeing her conviction to her call, her father and family consented.

Not long after taking her vows, Teresa became seriously ill, and the inadequate medical help she received aggravated her condition. She never fully recovered her health. She began receiving visions, and was examined by Dominicans and Jesuits, including Saint Francis Borgia, who pronounced the visions holy and true.

Teresa considered her original house too lax in its rule, so she founded a reformed convent of Saint John of Avila. She founded several houses, often receiving fierce resistance from local authorities. Teresa was a mystical writer, and most of her works are preserved until today. Pope Paul VI proclaimed Teresa a Doctor of the Church on September 27, 1970. She has the distinction of being the first woman saint to be declared a Doctor of the Church.

Saint Teresa of Avila died of natural causes on October 4, 1582 at Alba de Tormes in the arms of her secretary and close friend Blessed Anne of Saint Bartholomew. Her body is incorrupt, and her relics preserved at Alba. Her heart shows signs of Transverberation (piercing of the heart), and is displayed, too.
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