The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself

Front Cover, Jan 1, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography
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"The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself" is the autobiographical account of Saint Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada, a prominent 16th century Spanish mystic, Carmelite nun, and writer of the Counter Reformation. Like many of her writings her autobiography has a didactic tone as it intends to instruct the reader on how to live a more devout Christian life in the manner put forth by the Catholic Church. A classic work of Christian mysticism "The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself" is a must read for anyone seeking a more contemplative life and a closer and more spiritual connection with God through prayer and religious devotion.

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About the author (2004)

At the age of seven, Teresa ran away from her home in Avila, hoping to be martyred at the hands of the Moors. As a teen, she secretly enjoyed reading novels of chivalry. Taught by Augustinian nuns, Teresa acquired a sense of religious vocation only gradually. Deciding to become a nun, she professed as a Carmelite of Avila in 1537. Although she became ill to the point of having wax applied to her eyes in preparation of death, she did not die, but she did leave the convent. Teresa later returned to the convent and, upon reading St. Augustine's Confessions, experienced a conversion at the age of 40. When she experienced visions and heard voices, she wondered at first if it was the work of the devil. She found comfort in Peter of Alcantara's assessment that her experiences were of a divine origin. Life as a Carmelite nun tended to be comfortable, but not dissolute. Inspired by her mystical experiences, Teresa took practical steps to reform the Carmelite order. In 1562 she founded a convent with a stricter regime of discipline than was common. She also organized a Discalced Carmelite monastery for men. In doing so, she met Juan de Yepes y Alvarez, known to us as the mystic St. John of the Cross, who became a fellow reformer. In all, she founded 16 reformed convents. Teresa's spirituality cannot be characterized in a word, but humility rather than honor was at its center. Her life of contemplation led to active service. Upon her death in 1582, her body remained preserved. This, along with other signs of saintliness, led to her canonization in 1622. In 1970, she was declared a "Doctor of the Church," the first woman in the history of the Catholic church to receive that honor.

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