St Teresa of Avila - Feast day: October 15

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Home > Media > News > St Teresa of Avila - Feast day: October 15
St Teresa of Avila - Feast day: October 15

St Teresa of Avila is a great saint for anyone who has hit mid-life and is not as close to God as they would like to be.

Born in Spain in 1515, St Teresa showed signs as a child of wanting to follow God wholeheartedly but the distractions of her teen years cooled her faith.

After studying at a convent, she began to deliberate between marriage and religious life, and decided to enter a convent – as she believed it would be safer for her soul.

Her father refused permission, but strong-willed St Teresa secretly went to the local Carmelite monastery and applied to enter.

Although early in her religious life she took up mental prayer, the convent proved full of distractions, with many visitors.

Rather than forging on despite distractions, St Teresa lived a relatively mediocre spiritual life, faithful to the demands of her Carmelite life, but seemingly making little progress.

At around 40, through reading St Augustine’s Confessions, and an experience before a picture of Jesus’ suffering, she experienced an inner conversion and began to make progress in prayer and experienced the closeness God. She also began to have mystical experiences.

She later wrote that these experiences were God’s way of chastising her – the more she experienced His love, the less she wanted to ever offend Him.

She began to desire a simpler and austere religious life, with less distractions from prayer, and this led to her beginning a reform of the Carmelite Order. The nuns and monks of the reform became known as Discalced Carmelites.

St Teresa wrote several books, including The Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle, and has been named a Doctor of the Church.

She describes prayer as “being on terms of friendship with God, frequently conversing in secret with Him who we know loves us”.

“We must have a determined determination to never give up prayer,” she also said.

In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI said that St Teresa can show us our thirst for God’s friendship.

“She teaches us truly to feel this thirst for God that exists in the depths of our hearts, this desire to see God, to seek God, to be in conversation with Him and to be His friends.”

She is the patron saint of headache sufferers.