Quote of the day, 4 October: St. Teresa of Avila

“Oh my Lord and my Spouse, now the desired hour is come. Now it is time for us to go.” The dying words of #StTeresaOfAvila

Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew and other biographers of Saint Teresa have recorded her final words uttered when she received Viaticum on the Eve of St. Francis, 3 October:

Oh my Lord and my Spouse, now the desired hour is come. Now it is time for us to go. Señor mío, now is the time to set forth, may it be very soon, and may Your most holy will be accomplished! Now the hour has come for me to leave this exile, and my soul rejoices at one with you for what I have so desired!

Blessed Anne did not leave her side. She writes:

The day of her death she was unable to speak from early morning; in the evening, the Father who was attending her (Father Anthony of Jesus, one of the two first Discalced Carmelites) told me to go take some nourishment.

But scarcely had I left than the Saint became restless; with an anxious air she looked from one side to the other. The Father asked her if she wished me near her. She answered yes, by signs.

They called me; I hastened back.

For centuries, we have heard the story that these were her last words:

“En fin soy hija de la Iglesia”… “Finally, I am a daughter of the Church.” The dying words of #StTeresaOfAvila

But there are more details to share that Carmelite scholars like Father Kieran Kavanaugh can reveal:

In the testimony given by witnesses, there is a general agreement concerning the themes of the prayers spoken aloud by Teresa on the eve of her death before and after receiving the Eucharist and after receiving the Sacrament of the Sick. On the one hand, she revealed her intense feelings of sorrow at being a sinner, repeating pleas for mercy from God. This she did through verses taken from a psalm and spoken in Latin as she had learned them through choral recitation of the prayer of the Church.

On the other hand she revealed her awareness of approaching union with Christ her Bridegroom and her urgent longings for that moment. The words denote an active surge of loving energy and searching rather than an attitude of passive waiting. “Now the hour has struck.”

Further, in her thankfulness for being a daughter of the Church, she rejoiced in the thought of her Mother the Church, where she found the deposit of revelation, the norm of faith, the administration of the sacraments, the Christian family; this Church was now to offer her the Blood of Christ, the grace of redemption.

Muerte en Alba de Tormes | Teresa, de la rueca a la pluma

Let’s return to Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew for a few final words from the eyewitness to the Saint’s holy death.

As soon as she saw me, she smiled at me, showed me such condescension and affection that she caught me with her two hands and rested her head in my arms. I held her thus in my embrace until she expired, being more dead than the Saint herself; for, as for her, she was so inflamed with love for her Spouse that she sighed for the moment of parting from her body in order to be with Him.

As our Lord is so good and saw how little patience I had to bear this cross, He appeared to me at the foot of the Saint’s bed in all His Majesty, accompanied by His blessed ones who came to seek her soul.

This glorious vision lasted the space of a Credo, giving me time to exchange my pain and grief for a great resignation, to ask pardon of our Lord and say to Him:

“My Lord, even should Your Majesty wish to leave her for my consolation, I would ask you, now that I have witnessed your glory, not to leave her one moment in this exile.”

Scarcely had I uttered these words than she expired, and this blessed soul soared like a dove to enjoy the possession of her God.

The death of St. Teresa of Avila
Giovanni Segala (Italian, 1663–1720)
Oil on canvas, 1696
Church of San Pietro in Oliveto, Brescia

This painting is one of a series of six lunettes on Teresian themes that were restored in the Church of San Pietro in Oliveto in 2014–15 and exhibited in the diocesan museum in Brescia, Italy prior to installation in the church in 2015 for the occasion of the fifth centenary of the birth of the Saint. You can view the six Teresian lunettes on the stock photo website 123rf.com and read the scholarly paper (in Italian) that was prepared for the exhibition on Academia.edu with articles by Father Antonio Maria Sicari, O.C.D., Father Fabio Silvestri, O.C.D., and Professor Angelo Loda.

“She caught me with her two hands and rested her head in my arms; I held her thus in my embrace until she expired.” Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew, eyewitness to the #holy #death of #StTeresaOfAvila

Anne of St. Bartholomew, M; Bouix, M 1917,  Autobiography of the Blessed Mother Anne of Saint Bartholomew, inseparable companion of Saint Teresa, and foundress of the Carmels of Pontoise, Tours and Antwerptranslated from the French by Michael, M A, H. S. Collins Printing Co., Saint Louis.

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.

Walsh, W T 1987, Saint Teresa of Avila: a biography, Tan Books and Publishers, Rockford, IL.

3 thoughts on “Quote of the day, 4 October: St. Teresa of Avila

Add yours

  1. Wow, many thanks: that was a privilege to read. “Desired” is a very good choice of word.

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