St Teresa of Avila, a doctor of the Church, was a mystic whose life of prayer enriched the Church during the 16th century counter-reformation. She was a Carmelite nun, prominent Spanish mystic, religious reformer, author, and theologian of the contemplative life and of mental prayer.
It's easy to relate to Teresa as throughout her life, she was on a struggle with faith and piety. As she herself admitted, sometimes she felt like “a lion,” and other times like “an ant.”
Physically, Teresa experienced severe health issues in her adult life. On Nov. 2, 1535, she entered the Carmelite Monastery of the Incarnation at Avila. The following year, Teresa received the habit and began wholeheartedly to give herself to prayer and penance. Shortly after, Teresa became seriously ill and failed to respond to medical treatment and fell into a coma so profound that she was thought to be dead. After 4 days she revived. After her cure, which she attributed to St. Joseph, Teresa entered a period of mediocrity in her spiritual life, but she did not at any time give up praying. During this stage, which lasted 18 years, she experienced a series of transitory mystical experiences.
St. Teresa’s great work of reform began with herself. She made a vow always to follow the more perfect course, and resolved to keep the rule as perfectly as she could. Teresa received permission from Rome to establish a reformed convent, she went on to found over a half-dozen new monasteries. She traveled on foot to these monasteries, and thus became called the “walking” (“andariega”) saint. The movement she initiated was later joined by the younger Spanish Carmelite friar and mystic John of the Cross.
Toward the end of her life she exclaimed: “Oh, my Lord! How true it is that whoever works for you is paid in troubles! And what a precious price to those who love you if we understand its value.” Teresa’s writings, especially the Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle, have helped generations of believers.
St Theresa of Avila | Pierced Heart Design
This design was inspired by a vivid dream of St Teresa of Avila. She was a well known mystic, and wrote about her real experiences with the Lord.
One such experience is called the “transverberation” of her heart. She was so close to God that her heart was literally pierced with his love. St. Teresa describes it in her autobiography.
Our Lord was pleased that I should have at times a vision of this kind: I saw an angel close by me, on my left side, in bodily form. This I am not accustomed to see, unless very rarely. Though I have visions of angels frequently, yet I see them only by an intellectual vision, such as I have spoken of before. It was our Lord’s will that in this vision I should see the angel in this wise. He was not large, but small of stature, and most beautiful—his face burning, as if he were one of the highest angels, who seem to be all of fire: they must be those whom we call cherubim.
Their names they never tell me; but I see very well that there is in heaven so great a difference between one angel and another, and between these and the others, that I cannot explain it.
I saw in his 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 all 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. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it, even a large one. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am dying.
During the days that this lasted, I went about as if beside myself. I wished to see, or speak with, no one, but only to cherish my pain, which was to me a greater bliss than all created things could give me.
While this was primarily a spiritual experience, when she died, it was discovered that her heart was also physically pierced. When St. Teresa’s body was exhumed in 1582, her body was found to be incorrupt with no evidence of decay. At one point her heart was removed from her body, and people were astonished to see an actual wound from the angel’s spear.
💘 St. Avila's heart
🗡 Pierced by the Angel's golden spear
🔥 Set on fire with love of God
💓 "Amor Dei" is latin for "Love of god"
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Prayer of St. Teresa of Avila
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.
- St. Teresa of Avila
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