St. Teresa of Jesus (of Avila)
Doctor of the Church and Foundress of Discalced Carmelites
Feast Day: 15 October

Who was Teresa?

Quotes of St Teresa

St Teresa's Bookmark: Nada te turbe

2015: 5th Centenary of St Teresa's birth

St Teresa's message for the 21st Century

Hymn and prayer to St Teresa

Futher Reading

Who was Teresa?
A brief biography
(taken from "A Little book of St Teresa by Don Mullen")

St Teresa of Avila, Teresa Sanchez de Cepeda y Ahumada, was born during Spain's Golden Age, on 28 March 1515, near Avila, just 23 years after Christopher Columbus 'discovered' the Americas. Spain was then the most powerful colonial power in the world.
Teresa was the third child of Don Alonso Sanchez de Cepeda and his second wife, Dona Betriz Davila y Ahumada. Both parents were, she says, ''virtuous and God-fearing'. Teresa was in her early teens when her mother died, aged 33. She had two sisters and nine brothers, including a stepsister and brother, all of whom were supportive of her throughout her life. Her brothers became conquistadors. Teresa, in her own unique fashion was to become a conquistador of new and unexplored spiritual territories.
Her father, Don Alonso, was stubborn and resolutely just. Despite his wealth he was uncompromising in his refusal to keep slaves. In her autobiographical writings Teresa describes him as 'charitable with the poor and compassionate toward the sick...' He was, nonetheless, firmly opposed to Teresa's entry into the Carmelite Order, which she entered against his will.
As a child, Teresa showed signs of religious fervour but during adolescence became frivolous and more concerned with her appearance. However, as she approached adulthood she desired to singularly dedicate her life to Jesus. Aged 21, Teresa joined the Carmelite convent of the Incarnation, Avila - a bustling foundation with some 200 nuns and associates. Due to ill health she left for two years during which she was introduced to the practice of mental prayer. She was overwhelmed at the discovery of God's merciful presence both in herself and all sinners. This discovery became the core motivation of her reform of the Carmelite way. After returning to the convent she felt called to a much more contemplative life where solitude, silence and peace fostered a deeply personal relationship with an all-forgiving God.St Joseph's in Avila
With great determination, fortitude and unshakable conviction, Teresa faced down forceful opposition and every obstacle placed in her way. On 24 August 1562 she founded the first of her reformed convents - St Joseph's at Avila. She feared no one. With bold tenacity and her infectious charm she went on to found during her lifetime some 16 more monasteries that were dedicated to the contemplative life through the practice of austerity and simplicity. In 1567 she met St. John of the Cross and encouraged him to pioneer similar reforms within the male branch of the Carmelite Order.
St Teresa is also renowned for her autobiographical and mystical writings. In her book Life, she records her memories of childhood and adolescence and her early spiritual experiences. In her book The Foundations she records the epic struggle of establishing her monasteries. In The Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle, and some other minor works such as Spiritual Testimonies, Soliloquies, Meditations on the Song of Songs and her Poetry, she shares the lessons derived from her many challenging experiences, of striving always to live in the presence of God's enduring Love. There are some 437 of her Letters preserved. They make electrifying reading, intermingling spiritual teachings with minor tittle-tattle, building suggestions and recipes!
St Teresa of Avila died at Alba de Tormes on 4 October 1582. She was beatified in 1614 by Pope Paul V and canonized in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV. Pope Paul VI proclaimed her a Doctor of the Church in 1970. Her feast day is 15th October.

Quotes of St Teresa

The important thing is not to think much but to love much. The soul's progress does not lie in thinking much
but in loving much.
If life, which is so short, is to be of any use at all, its use is for gaining life eternal.
I tried as hard as I could to keep Jesus Christ, our God and our Lord, present within me, and that was my way of prayer. God never tires of giving, nor can he exhaust his mercies.
Let us not tire of receiving.
The Lord walks among the pots
and pans.
If you are able you should occupy yourself in looking at Christ who is looking at you, and you should speak, and petition, and humble yourself, and delight in the Lord's presence, and remember that you are unworthy of being there. Nothing is impossible when our Lord wants it.

St Teresa's Bookmark: Nada te turbe

One of St Teresa's most well-known pieces of writing is a short verse
known as her "Bookmark". It teaches us the simple message
of trust in God and total reliance on him:

Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you. 
All things are passing; God never changes.

Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
  God alone suffices.

St Teresa's Bookmark has been put to music and is a popular Taize chant.
You can watch it being sung at Taize on YouTube, here:

The 5th centenary of the birth of St Teresa

The entire order of Discalced carmelites around the world are actively preparing for the fifth centenary of the birth of St Teresa which will come in 2015. In each of the five years coming up to this great event, a different book of hers will be re-read and studied individually by Carmelites, in communities and where possible in a setting where members of the public can join in.

The order in which the books will be studied are as follows:
Oct 2009 - Oct 2010: Book of her Life
Oct 2010 - Oct 2011: Way of Perfection
Oct 2011 - Oct 2012: Foundations
Oct 2012 - Oct 2013: Interior Castle
Oct 2013 - Oct 2014: Spiritual relations, Poems and Letters

A special website with resources, reading guides, worksheets and blog has been set up and can be accessed at this address:

St Teresa's message for the 21st Century

To follow...

Poem by St Teresa
Love's Colloquy

If, Lord, Thy love for me is strong
As this which binds me unto Thee,
What holds me from Thee, Lord, so long,
What holds Thee, Lord, so long from me?

O soul, what then desirest thou?
- Lord, I would see Thee, who thus choose Thee.
What fears can yet assail thee now?
- All that I fear is but to lose Thee.

Love's whole possession I entreat,
Lord, make my soul Thine own abode,
And I will build a nest so sweet
It may not be too poor for God.

A soul in God hidden from sin,
What more desires for thee remain,
Save but to love, and love again,
And, all on flame with love within,
Love on, and turn to love again?

Father in heaven,

by your Spirit you raised up
St Teresa of Avila to show your Church the way to perfection.
May her inspired teaching
awaken in us a longing
for true holiness.
May we share her love for you and remain blameless through the
new life we receive.
Grant these graces through
Christ our Lord.

St Teresa of Avila,
pray for us.

Further Reading

Website for 5th centenary of her birth:

Read St. Teresa's Books Online:

Way of Perfection:

Interior Castle:

Book of her Life:


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