Teresa of Ávila

Saint Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, baptized as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada (28 March 15154 October 1582), was a prominent Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic saint, Carmelite nun and author during the Counter Reformation, and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. She was a reformer in the Carmelite Order of her time and the movement she initiated, later joined by Saint John of the Cross, eventually led to the establishment of the Discalced Carmelites, though neither she nor John were alive when the two orders separated. In 1622, forty years after her death, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV, and on 27 September 1970 was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI. Her books, which include her autobiography (The Life of Teresa of Jesus) and her seminal work El Castillo Interior (trans.: The Interior Castle), are an integral part of Spanish Renaissance literature as well as Christian mysticism and Christian meditation practices. She also wrote Camino de Perfección (trans.: The Way of Perfection). After her death, Saint Teresa’s cult was known in Spain during the 1620s, and for a time she was considered a candidate to become a national patron saint. A Santero image of the Immaculate Conception of El Viejo, said to have been sent with one of her brothers to Nicaragua by the saint, is now venerated as the country’s national patroness at the Shrine of El Viejo. Pious Catholic beliefs also associate Saint Teresa with the esteemed religious image called Infant Jesus of Prague with claims of former ownership and devotion.

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