Saint Teresa of Avila: Reformer of Carmel


Saint Teresa of Avila, mystic, Carmelite reformer, and Doctor of the Church, is one of the greatest people to ever walk the face of the Earth—and even one of the greatest saints. Her position as a spiritual master is uncontested and, as this short, readable biography will attest, her life was one of astounding sanctity and humility.

Such was the soul of the great St. Teresa of Avila, reformer of Carmel. In her youth, Teresa had all but forced herself to become a nun, and in the ensuing years she would also make many other courageous decisions. Her life would include remarkable mystical graces, fears of delusion by Satan, a vision of her potential place in Hell, many travels to found new Carmelite convents, work with other great Saints and dealings with difficult persons, and more. She was zealous in mortification and frequently exerted herself to the point of illness. She experienced interior visions (i.e. without sensory manifestation) of Our Lord, levitations, and other graces, including the famous transverberation, where her heart was mystically pierced by a lance borne by a seraph.

But Teresa’s principle work in life was to reform the Carmelites; she traveled all about Spain establishing new convents and, with St. John of the Cross, men’s monasteries. Throughout all of her reform work, her attitude was joyful, saintly, and profoundly charismatic. The same personality shines through in her works on mystical theology, all of which are masterpieces, but the greatest of which is The Interior Castle, a guide of the spiritual journey of the soul through seven “mansions” of spiritual progress.

This is the story of St. Teresa of Avila, a woman of great heart and immense common sense, one of the most remarkable women in the history of the world. She reformed Carmel—thus making the Carmelite Order into a mother of saints—and leaving a tremendous mark on the Catholic Church even to this day.

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