Our Class Saint
St Teresa was born in Avila, Spain on 28th March 1515. Her parents were both pious Catholics and in some ways inspired their daughter to take up a life of prayer. As a young child, Teresa showed signs of a deeply religious nature; she would often retreat into silence for prayer and would enjoy giving to the poor. At the age of 16, Teresa’s father decided to send her to a convent school to be educated. This reignited in Teresa an interest in following a spiritual life and after some deliberation Teresa decided to become a nun of the Carmelite Order.
Shortly after becoming a nun, Teresa experienced a severe illness which left her in great pain for a long period. At one point it was feared that her illness was so severe that she would not be able to recover. However, during this time, she began to increasingly experience divine visions and an inner sense of peace.
At the age of 43, Teresa decided she wanted to found a new order recommitting to the values of poverty and simplicity. She wanted to move away from her present convent which made a life of prayer more difficult. Initially, her aims were greeted with widespread opposition from within the town of Avila. However, with the support of some priests, she was allowed to set up her first convent. Teresa proved to be an influential leader and founder. She guided the nuns through the power of love and common sense. To others, Teresa stressed the importance of experiencing God’s Love.
St Teresa devoted much of the rest of her life to travelling around Spain setting up new convents. She taught her nuns to think and pray on their own, and to concentrate in order to hear the Lord in their hearts. Her travels and work were not always greeted with enthusiasm and she was often met with criticism. St Teresa also had to frequently contend with difficult living conditions and her frail health. However, she never let these obstacles stop her from her achieving her life’s task.
In 1622, forty years after her death, Teresa was canonized by Pope Gregory XV. Her feast day is celebrated on 15th October and she is the patron saint of Spain.