The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa of Avila (1515-1582)

Sculpture by Bernini in the Cornaro Chapel, Rome

Artful Writing

October 15 honors this radiant Spanish saint for reforming prayer and the Carmelite Order with the assistance of her spiritual director Saint John of the Cross during the 16th century.

Theresa encourages us to ascend the heights of prayer while staying rooted in the realities of life.  Her prolific writings include her Autobiography describing mystical visions and revelations from Jesus as shown by Bernini above.  She wrote:

“I saw in his (Saint Michael’s) hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron’s point there seemed to be a little fire.  He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me on fire with a great love of God.  The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it.”

Theresa’s motto is “To suffer or to die.”  She promoted that prayer without charity displeases God and founded 17 renewed convents.

Her other two masterpieces are “The way of Perfection” to guide the nuns and “The Interior Castle,” a study in mystical theology.  In 1970, Pope Paul VI declared her the first woman Doctor of the Church for these treatises witnessed by her sacrificial life.

Once Theresa asked Jesus why He wanted her to accomplish a task, Jesus replied:

“Theologians will do nothing to enter into personal communication with me.  Repulsed by them, I must choose women to open to them My Heart and speak of My Affairs.”

I owe a deep gratitude to God and Saint Theresa for my deeper conversion and membership with the Secular Discalced Carmelite Order.  She is famous for saying:

“Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you.  All things are passing away:  God never changes.  Patience obtains all things.  Whoever has God lacks nothing, God alone suffices.”


Saint Theresa of Avila

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