St. Teresa of Avila
Teresa was born in Avila, Spain, on March 28, 1515. As a little girl in her parents' rich home, Teresa and her brother Rodrigo loved to read the lives of the saints and martyrs. It seemed to them that the martyrs got to heaven an easy way. The two children set out secretly to go to the land of the Moors. As they walked along, they prayed that they might die for Christ. But they had not gotten far when they met an uncle. He took them back to their worried mother at once. Next the children decided to be hermits in their garden. This didn't work out either. They could not get enough stones together to build their huts.
St. Teresa herself wrote down these amusing stories of her childhood. The fact is that when she grew to be a teenager, however, she changed. Teresa read so many novels and foolish romances that she lost much of her love for prayer. She began to think more of dressing up to look pretty. But after she recovered from a bad illness, Teresa read a book about the great St. Jerome. Then and there, she made up her mind to become a bride of Christ. As a nun, Teresa often found it hard to pray. Besides that, she had poor health.
Teresa wasted time every day in long, foolish conversations. But one day, in front of a picture of Jesus, she felt great sorrow that she did not love God more. She started then to live for Jesus alone, no matter what sacrifice had to be made. In return for her love, the Lord gave St. Teresa the privilege of hearing him talk to her. She learned to pray in a marvelous way, too. St. Teresa of Avila is famous for having opened new Carmelite convents. These convents were filled with sisters who wanted to live holy lives. They made many sacrifices for Jesus. Teresa herself gave them the example. She prayed with great love and worked hard at the convent tasks.
St. Teresa was a great leader and true lover of Jesus and his Church. She died in 1582 and was proclaimed a saint by Pope Gregory XV in 1622.
She was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI in 1970.
St. Teresa taught that we must have a great trust in God's care for us. She wrote that a person who possesses God, lacks nothing; God alone is enough.