Quote of the day, 24 May: St. Teresa of Avila


May the Holy Spirit always be with your honor, amen. I have written you letters by four different avenues, and in three of them I enclosed a letter for Señor Jerónimo de Cepeda [one of Teresa’s younger brothers].

Because at least one of them will surely arrive, I’ll not respond now to everything you have told me, nor will I say more about the good resolve our Lord has placed in your soul [to return to Spain], about which I have praised His Majesty. It seems to me to be a sound decision.

Indeed, the motives you mentioned made me think more or less of others there might be, and I hope in the Lord that this will all be for his greater service.

In all of our monasteries we are praying especially and unceasingly that since your intention is to serve our Lord, His Majesty will bring you safely to us and guide you toward what will be most beneficial for your soul and for your [motherless] children.

I took in a nun who had nothing for a dowry, not even a bed, and I offered this to God that you and your children will arrive in good health. Give my regards to them.

I am making a similar offering for Señor Jerónimo de Cepeda. I receive many nuns in this way, if they are spiritual, and then the Lord sends others who provide the means for them all.

Give my best regards to Señor Pedro de Ahumada [another of Teresa’s younger brothers]. Because he can receive news about me from your honor and I have so little time, I am not writing to him.

I am very concerned about Agustín de Ahumada since I do not know how he is faring in his relationship with our Lord. I pray a great deal for him.

Saint Teresa of Avila

Letter 24 to her brother Lorenzo de Cepeda in Quito, Ecuador
17 January 1570

Note: On 24 May 1546, St. Teresa’s youngest brother Agustín de Ahumada left in the armada bound for Peru with the diplomat Pedro de La Gasca.

After ten years of war on an expedition to Chile, Agustín returned to Peru. There he became a member of the council of war for the viceroy, Francisco de Toledo. This came about through the mediation of Teresa’s friend and Dominican spiritual director, García de Toledo, who was an advisor to the Viceroy de Toledo.

Agustín was the youngest and most restless of Teresa’s brothers. He remained unmarried, and Teresa worried about his spiritual condition. At one time she prayed with real daring for his conversion (cf. Spiritual Testimonies, 16).

At one point, Agustín had to ask his brother Lorenzo to help his natural daughter, Leonor.

At the end of his life, Agustín testified that he had once received a letter from his sister warning him not to accept any office in the Indies if he valued his salvation. He returned to Spain, but later, after Teresa’s death, decided to go back to the Indies since he had been offered the governorship of Tucumán.

During the voyage there Agustín began to feel deep remorse over his decision to accept the office and fell sick with a fever. A feeling came over him that he had made a mistake by dismissing his sister’s advice of some time ago.

Agustín died during the voyage, but in great quiet and peace, which he felt was a grace obtained for him by his sister, whose relic he was carrying with him.

[Sources: Translator and editor Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD, and the Efemérides Carmelitanas blog]

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: This detailed image of the Illumination of Saint Teresa is a mural painting by an unknown artist of the Quito School, ca. 1653, located in the upper cloister of the Carmen Alto museum in Quito, Ecuador. Image credit: Project for the Engraved Sources of Spanish Colonial Art, PESSCA 2129B (Some rights reserved)

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