“Whoever has God lacks nothing: God alone is enough.”
Born: March 28, 1515
Died: October 4, 1582
Feast Day: October 15
Patron of headache sufferers and Spanish Catholic writers
If you heard a teen guy describing a girl as “witty and beautiful, intelligent and charming, funny and deep,” you might assume he was talking about his dream girl, but he could have easily been describing young St. Teresa of Avila. Born in Spain in 1515, Teresa entered a world that was battling between seeking God and seeking only the comforts that came with “seeking” God. In fact, St. Teresa’s own life reflected this tension.
Teresa developed a love for clothes, perfume, and boys. She cared about fashion and flirting far more than her overprotective father was comfortable with or willing to allow. He became so enraged by his wild child’s antics that he sent Teresa to live in a Carmelite convent when she turned 16.
While living in the convent, Teresa continued to struggle with the same battle and eventually, contracted malaria, which later led to three years of paralysis. Her physical suffering became unbearable. She struggled with prayer, blaming her sickness on her own sinfulness, and proclaimed that she did not deserve God’s love or mercy.
Finally, at the age of 41, a priest convinced Teresa to really start praying again. Teresa prayed, and boy, did God listen (as He promises us in Jeremiah 29:12). Teresa began receiving visions and gifts from God in prayer, often finding herself in a state of ecstasy and levitating. The visions frequently caused her intense mental and physical distress.
The spiritual gifts far outweighed her physical pains, though, bringing Teresa peace, encouragement, and a clear goal. Unlike Martin Luther who tried to reform the Church from the outside, Teresa would obediently and humbly work for change from within the Church. The pursuit of holiness became the goal of Teresa’s life and writings, so she founded a new convent for Carmelite sisters that was devoted to a life of poverty and intense prayer. Teresa founded 17 convents before her death, and both nuns and priests were (and still are) inspired by her holy example of simplicity and prayerfulness.
Whenever you find yourself caught in the tug-of-war between heaven and Earth, ask St. Teresa of Avila to pray with you. Over time, she learned what it meant to be in the world but not of it. If you ever doubt whether God is listening to your prayers or, in your sufferings, fear that God may be punishing you for all of the sins you have committed, ask St. Teresa of Avila to take you by the hand and walk you to the cross. Her intercession will help remind you that, no matter how difficult or painful your life may become at times, the Lord’s mercy is always greater than your sin.
- Experienced visions of Christ and was able to levitate
- Founded 17 convents
- Her most well-known writings are “Interior Castle” and “The Way of Perfection”
- Declared a “Doctor of the Church,” an honor bestowed on only 36 saints (to date)