The manifold Wisdom of God sometimes reveals itself more manifestly to certain beloved disciples of Christ and to them, by arcane design and singular liberality, it is granted to understand “the breadth and the length, and height and the depth… knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge” (Eph 3:18). In fact, “the Holy Spirit sanctifies and leads the people of God and enriches it with virtues, but, “allotting his gifts to everyone according as He wills, (1 Cor 12:11) He distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank. By these gifts He makes them fit and ready to undertake the various tasks and offices which contribute toward the renewal and greater expansion of the Church” (LG 12).
Teresa of Jesus, great and noble virgin, and also reformer of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, was enriched by profusion of this divine abundance of sacred charisms. A woman of simple customs and ignorant of literary culture, she excelled so much in words and writings that these words can be referred to her: “in the full assembly she opened her mouth” (Sir 15:5), and she was rightly proclaimed a saint by holy men and also was venerated as a very sure guide and teacher by doctors of sacred sciences. Although she was involved in a great deal of business related to her duties, it was nevertheless seen that she constantly aspired to a better homeland, that is to say, to a heavenly homeland; almost always suffering in her body and laden with tribulations, she fearlessly faced any undertaking for the glory of God and for the benefit of Christ’s Church.
Therefore, since this servant of God always has been exalted, whether for the extraordinary facts of her life, the rare virtues of her soul, or for the acumen of her spirit, we consider with certainty this fact a just and noble reason wherefore, as our predecessor Gregory XV’s decree bestowed upon her the honours of the saints so that all the faithful of Christ might understand with what abundance God had filled his servant with the Holy Spirit (cf. Lett. Decr. Omnipotens sermo), so should we proclaim her — we do not doubt — a Doctor of the Church, first among women, especially for her knowledge and doctrine of divine things. In fact, we have faith and trust that Teresa of Jesus, declared by solemn decree a teacher of Christian life, strongly will encourage the men of our time as well to cultivate above all that which favours the soul’s love towards contemplation and the attainment of heavenly things.
Saint Paul VI
Apostolic Letter, Multiformis Sapientia Dei (excerpt)
27 September 1970
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