I remember that when my mother died I was twelve years old or a little less. When I began to understand what I had lost, I went, afflicted, before an image of our Lady and besought her with many tears to be my mother. It seems to me that although I did this in simplicity it helped me. For I have found favor with this sovereign Virgin in everything I have asked of her, and in the end she has drawn me to herself.
Saint Teresa of Avila
The Book of Her Life, Chap. 1, no. 7
On 24 November 1528, St. Teresa’s mother, Doña Beatriz Ahumada made her last will and testament. Scholars such as Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Joseph Pérez indicate that it is believed she expired soon after she made and signed her will, dying in her palace at Gotarrendura, Avila. From there, her body was taken to the city with all due ceremony where she received a burial with honors in the Church of San Juan in Avila.
Spanish Wikipedia has a small biography for Doña Beatriz that draws upon the research of Pérez and others; it also consults the Cepeda genealogy from her husband’s side of the family.
Father Kavanaugh discusses the “image of our Lady” in his footnotes to Chapter 1 of St. Teresa’s autobiography, The Book of Her Life:
According to an old tradition, she is referring to a statue of Our Lady of Charity that was venerated in the hermitage of St. Lazarus, outside the walls of the city, near the river Adaja. After the destruction of the hermitage in the nineteenth century, the statue was moved to the cathedral where it is venerated today.
This statue of Our Lady of Charity is found in the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows (Capilla de la virgen de la piedad o de los dolores) in the Cathedral of Avila. You can learn more about the chapel here on the cathedral website and see a better photo of the chapel on Wikimedia Commons, which includes the statue of Our Lady of Charity.
Finally, thanks to Flickr member Juan NOLLA BENAGES for his close-up photo of the famous “image of our Lady” who received the tears of a grief-stricken child named Teresa.
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 this stock photo image of the city of Avila at night, the Cathedral of Avila rises above the old city in the center of the horizon.
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