To Doña Luisa de la Cerda, Antequera
Jesus be with your ladyship. I would have liked to have had more time for this letter, and thinking that I would have it today, I waited until now; for tomorrow, 19 May, I’m leaving. But I have had so much to do that no time is left. I will write through Pablo Hernández [St. Teresa’s Jesuit confessor]. Although I have received no word about him since he left here, I’ll inform him of all that you asked me to tell him. I’ve praised our Lord that your trip [to the south of Spain] went so well. We prayed very much for it here [Doña Luisa’s son had kidney stones; they sought a cure]. May His Majesty be pleased that the rest of the trip turn out as well.
I am feeling fine and each day I feel better in this town [Malagón], and so do all the others. None of the sisters is dissatisfied, and every day they please me more. I tell you that of the four who have come [from St. Joseph’s monastery in Avila], three experience deep prayer, and have many other gifts. They are such that you can be sure that even though I’m going away, nothing that has to do with perfection will be lost, especially considering the persons who will be here with them … [missing text in manuscript, possibly alluding to a confessor] May God keep him here for many years, for with him I have no worry about anything. The parish priest [in Malagón] kisses your hands, for he is the type — I don’t know how to say it — who doesn’t send greetings. As you directed me, I gave your greetings to him. We owe him a great deal.
I cannot understand why you have not yet sent Maestro Avila [St. John of Avila] what I entrusted to you! [i.e., the manuscript of The Book of Her Life, which she wanted him to review]. Do not delay any longer, for love of the Lord, but send it right away through a messenger — they tell me it’s only a day’s journey. To wait for Salazar [Gaspar de Salazar, a Jesuit of great learning] would be foolish; if he is rector, he wouldn’t be able to leave to visit you, and even less go to see Padre Avila. I beg you, if you have not sent it, to do so at once. Indeed, this has distressed me, for it seems that the devil is interfering. And the Reverend Licentiate [Velasco, in the service of Doña Luisa] has been a great temptation, for I had told him to bring it when he went. I believe that the devil will get mad if this saint sees it. I don’t know the reason …[more missing text] I beg you to send it at once and do what I asked of you in Toledo. Realize that it’s more important than you think … [the rest of the letter is missing]
Saint Teresa of Avila
Malagón, 18 May 1568
Teresa of Avila, St. 1985, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K; Rodriguez, O, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
Featured image: In the Spanish television film series Teresa de Jesús, Doña Luisa de la Cerda and St. Teresa meet in the noblewoman’s home in Toledo following the death of Doña Luisa’s husband in 1561. After a special request from her family to the Carmelite provincial, Teresa was sent to live with Luisa and console her for roughly six months. In gratitude, Doña Luisa became the benefactor of Teresa’s new foundation in Malagón and rendered other valuable services to the Saint, as we see in the letter above [Photo credit: screengrab from the RTVE Archives YouTube broadcast].