Teresa of Avila
St Teresa, whose name was Teresa de Ahumada, was born in Avila, Spain. While she was still a child and not yet nine years old she had the opportunity to read the lives of several Martyrs which inspired in her such a longing for martyrdom that she briefly ran away from home in order to die a Martyr’s death and to go to Heaven (cf. Vida, [Life], 1, 4). A few years later, when recalling this event from her childhood, Teresa said she discovered in it a way of truth, which she summed up in two fundamental principles. On the one hand was the fact that “all things of this world will pass away” while on the other God alone is “for ever, ever, ever”. When she was 20 she entered the Carmelite Monastery of the Incarnation, also in Avila. In her religious life she suffered the death of her father and the migration of her siblings, one after another, to America. In Lent 1554, when she was 39 years old, Teresa reached the climax of her struggle against her own weaknesses. The fortuitous discovery of the statue of “a Christ most grievously wounded”, left a deep mark on her life (cf. Vida, 9). The Saint began in practice to realize her ideal of the reform of the Carmelite Order: in 1562 she founded the first reformed Carmel in Avila, with the support of the city’s Bishop. In the years that followed, she continued her foundations of new Carmelite convents, 17 in all. Her meeting with St John of the Cross was of fundamental importance. With him, in 1568, she set up the first convent of Discalced Carmelites in Duruelo, not far from Avila. She died on the night of 15 October 1582 in Alba de Tormes. She was beatified by Pope Paul V in 1614 and canonized by Gregory XV in 1622.