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12 Interesting facts about St. Teresa of Avila
The CCIA Order of Carmelites takes a great deal of inspiration from St Teresa of Avila(1515-1582). We celebrate St. Teresa’s feast day on October 15. She was probably the female saint and mystic with the greatest influence in the world.
For this past feast of St. Teresa of Avila, I decided to reflect on why this saint and Doctor of the Church, continues to be relevant and useful for new generations.
In that search, I came across the twelve points list below, provided by Sr. Cristiana Dobner, one of the most prolific Carmelite nuns and Catholic women today. She translates German, English, French, Spanish, Dutch, Hebrew, and Russian, and is a contributor to various publications, including the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. She lives in the monastery of Santa Maria del Monte Carmelo in Concenedo di Barzio, in the northern Italian city of Lecco. She knows, reads, translates, and writes about St. Teresa.
“Just being a woman is enough for my wings to fall off,” St. Teresa said. This statement, written in her autobiography, is one of the famous sayings of this great saint, whose full name was Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada. According to Sr. Dobner, this phrase reminds us that despite the social conventions at the time that clipped the wings of women, Teresa would not let herself be held back.
In the world of the Spanish Golden Age, society was not very inclined to the “independence of women; rather, it was just the opposite. Men were in control, and women had to adapt,” explained the Italian Carmelite, who explains how, from an early age, Teresa “showed that she knew how to get what she wanted.”
“Teresa was fascinated by hearing and reading stories about the martyrs, because they had shed their blood and had seen God. And she, in order to see Him, wanted to speed up time. In fact, she convinced her younger brother Rodrigo to run away with her to Muslim lands, so they could be martyred and, in this way, would be able to see God. Their family members found them just outside their home town of Avila. But that was Teresa, and that was her determination as a young girl.
“Just imagine what she was like as an adolescent, or as an adult,” Dobner says.
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