As a contemporary, spiritual relative and native of the same country as that famous champion of the faith, St. Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa’s impact unfolded in a century marked by religious strife and a great schism in the Church.
When she came into the world, a mere twenty years had passed since the last of the Moors were driven out of Spain and the whole peninsula united in the Catholic faith.
Eight centuries of continual warfare between the Cross and the Crescent lay behind the Spanish people. During these battles, they blossomed into a heroic people, into a legion of Christ the King.
Teresa’s more immediate homeland, the ancient kingdom of Castile, was the strong fortress from which in the resolute struggle the cross was gradually carried to the South. The Castilian knights formed the special troops of the army of faith.
Teresa, a bold warrior for God, came from such a race of heroes. A town built on cliffs, the fortress of Avila (called “Avila of the Saints”) was her native town.
Her parents, Alonso Sánchez de Cepeda and his second wife Beatriz de Ahumada, were of the old nobility [Father Teófanes Egido, OCD published his research demonstrating St. Teresa’s Jewish roots in 1982 and 1986. St. Edith Stein wrote based on Carmelite knowledge in the 1930s]. According to the custom of the times and of her country, she was called by her mother’s surname, Teresa de Ahumada.
Just as she saw the light of day on the morning of 28 March 1515, the bell of the newly built Carmelite monastery invited the faithful to a great celebration, to the consecration of its chapel. This was the house that later was to be her home for decades, where the Lord intended to form this vessel of his election.
Teresa was the sixth child of her father and the third of her young mother, who had taken charge of the daughter and two sons from her husband’s first marriage. Six younger siblings were later added to these five older ones.
Alonso Sánchez de Cepeda was a man of deep piety and strong virtue. He carefully watched over the upbringing of his children, guided them to everything good, and himself presented them with the best example of a serious Christian life.
Delicate Doña Beatriz, mild and humble, ill at an early age, and dependent on the help of her stepdaughter María for the upbringing of this great band of children, was fervently devout. The love of God and of prayer bloomed spontaneously in the hearts of the children who shared her life.
Saint Edith Stein
Love for Love: The Life and Works of St. Teresa of Jesus (1934)
1. Native Land and Family Home
Stein, E. 2014, The Hidden Life: hagiographic essays, meditations, spiritual texts, translated from the German by Stein, W, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
Leave a Reply