The Foundation of the Discalced Carmelite Friars
Having the permission of these two provincials [Fray Alonso González, O.Carm. and his predecessor Fray Angel de Salazar, O.Carm., the Carmelite provincials of Spain], I now figured that nothing was lacking.
We arranged that Father Fray John of the Cross would go to the house and get it ready so that, in spite of all, it could be lived in. For me, what was most urgent was that the friars begin, for I was very fearful lest some obstacle would come along our path. And this they did.
Father Fray Antonio [Antonio de Jesús (Heredia)] had already gathered some of the things necessary. Insofar as we could, we helped him; although our help amounted to little. He came to Valladolid with great happiness to speak to me and told me what he had collected, which was very little.
It was only with clocks that he was well provided, for he had five of them; this greatly amused me. He told me they were meant as a help to follow the daily schedule, which he wanted well fixed; I don’t think he even had any bed yet to sleep in.
Although they had wanted to do a great deal with the house, not much time was required to prepare it because there was no money.
When it was ready, Father Fray Antonio happily renounced his priorship and promised to observe the primitive rule. Although he was told to try the new way of life first, he did not want to. He went to his little house with the greatest happiness in the world. Fray John was already there.
Father Fray Antonio has told me that when he first came near the little place he felt a great inner joy, and it seemed to him that he was now through with the world by leaving it all and placing himself in that solitude. Neither of the two found the house unfit; rather, it seemed to them they were living in the midst of great pleasures.
On the First or Second Sunday of Advent (I don’t remember which of these Sundays it was), in the year 1568, the first Mass was said in that little stable of Bethlehem, for it doesn’t seem to me the house was any better.
Saint Teresa of Avila
The Book of the Foundations
Chapter 14, nos. 1–3, 6 (excerpts)
Note: It was, in fact, the First Sunday of Advent, 28 November 1568 that the first Mass was offered in the new foundation of the Discalced Carmelite friars. Fr. Antonio de Jesús (Heredia) resigned as the Carmelite provincial of Medina del Campo to join St. Teresa’s reform. When St. Teresa obtained the formal permission from the Carmelite Prior General Giovanni Battista Rossi in Rome (Teresa called him Rubeo), she exclaimed, ¡Bendito sea Dios que tengo para la fundación de mis descalzos fraile y medio! (Blessed be God that I have for the foundation of my discalced friars a friar-and-a-half!). Discalced Carmelite historian Eduardo Sanz de Miguel tells a little story about the humble beginnings of the friars in Duruelo (our translation).
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: Actress Concha Velasco recreates the scene where St. Teresa visits the foundation at Duruelo in the RTVE series Teresa de Jesús (screengrab).