MEETING AT AVILA CITY HALL
In an inflammatory speech [the city magistrate] explained that [the new discalced monastery of Saint Joseph] was an innovation and as such suspect. The maintenance of the nuns would excessively burden the nobility of Avila. Opening the house without the permission of the city was illegal. Therefore, one must conclude that it be suppressed.
The speaker already had the majority on his side when a Dominican asked to speak. It was Fr. Domingo Báñez who had only been in Avila for a short time, but was famous for his scholarship. He did not know Teresa, but his love for justice impelled him to become a spokesman for her cause.
“Is it a sufficient reason to destroy something because it is new? Were not all societies of orders innovations when they arose from the bosom of the Church? And when our Lord and God founded the Church, did his work not bear the mark of innovation?… This newly founded monastery of Carmelites is a reform of the ancient community. It picks up what has fallen. It renews a weakened Rule. It strives for the formation of people for the glory of the holy faith. For these reasons it must not only be tolerated by the power of the state and of the city, but favored and protected.
“… How can anyone believe that poor women confined in a corner who pray to God for us could become such a heavy burden and a danger to the people?… The frightening specter that is the entire cause of the disturbance in Avila is that of four humble, peace-loving Carmelites living at the outermost end of a suburb…. It seems to me of little use to Avila to call a council for such an insignificant reason.
“The existence of the monastery is inviolable, since the Most Reverend Bishop Alvaro de Mendoza has taken it under his protection and the Holy See has given its approval in a brief, against which all of Avila can do nothing….”
In response to his speech, the gathering broke up and the little monastery [of Saint Joseph] was rescued. However, it took several more months of negotiations and the sacrificial efforts of all the friends to overcome the rest of the hindrances.
Finally, on December 5, 1562, the provincial Angel de Salazar gave Teresa permission to go to her daughters. She was even allowed to take along four nuns from the Monastery of the Incarnation. In overflowing thanks to the Lord, she once again consecrated herself and her little religious family to his service.
Now she and those accompany her put on the rough habit of the reform and exchanged their shoes for coarse sandals. At the same time, in order to bury all reminders of rank and status in the world, they gave up their family names and chose a noble title that came from heaven. From that day on, Teresa de Ahumada was called Teresa of Jesus.
Saint Edith Stein
Love for Love: The Life and Works of St. Teresa of Jesus
Stein, E. 2014, The Hidden Life: hagiographic essays, meditations, spiritual texts, translated from the German by Stein, W, ICS Publications, Washington DC.