Quote of the day: 23 October

I am asking Him that you may be not on­ly a good missionary but a saint all on fire with the love of God and souls; I beg you to obtain also for me this love so that I may help you in your apostolic work.

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

Letter 198 to Abbé Maurice Bellière
21 October 1896

 

Belliere-3
Abbé Maurice Bellière in the African missions with the Pères Blancs | Photo credit: Discalced Carmelites

Quote of the day: 22 October

The presence of God and of Christ, a renewing purification under the guidance of the Spirit, and the living of an informed and adult faith—is this not in reality the heart of the teaching of St. John of the Cross and his message for the Church and for men and women of today? Unless we renew our faith and brighten its flame, we will not be able to face any of the great tasks which face the Church. Only faith enables us to experience the salvific presence of God in Christ in the very center of life and of history. Faith alone reveals to us the meaning of the human condition and our supreme dignity as sons and daughters of God who are called to communion with Him. Faith is the heartbeat of the new evangelization, for it re-evangelizes believers and opens them more and more to the teachings and light of Christ.

Saint John Paul II

Master in the Faith
Apostolic Letter for the IV Centenary of the Death of St. John of the Cross
14 December 1990

 

JP2 Cali Colombia Jul 4-5 1986 Hernan Valencia Flickr 2595523261_94ac7ca31c_o
Cali, Colombia, 4-5 July 1986 | Hernan Valencia / Flickr

Quote of the day: 21 October

My dear Anne-Marie,

I am so weak I can hardly hold a pencil and yet I need to thank you from my heart, which was so deeply touched by your thoughtfulness. I award you a diploma in candy making: your Kalougas are so good! How pretty they are in their little box! I have quite a supply of chocolates of every kind; everything makes me suffer, but yours, on the contrary, soothe me; it is surely your heart that has placed a special essence in these pretty candies. A thousand thanks. I am not forgetting you on my cross, where I taste unknown joys, and when I am in Heaven, your names and your memories, which are so well engraved in the depths of my heart, will be constantly present there before God. I am very happy, little Anne-Marie!… If you saw how my dear Mother takes care of me…. For a Carmelite used to mortification, I am ashamed of my comfort, but where I am concerned, the only consideration is one of charity, of goodness that is so maternal! A Dieu, little one, I love you and your family a lot, and I kiss you all. Thanks again.

S. E. of the Trinity r.c.i.

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity

Letter 328a to Anne-Marie d’Avout
around October 21, 1906 

 

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Kalougas from Bernachon Chocolates in Lyon, France | ricardo / Flickr

 

 

Elizabeth of the Trinity, St 2014, I have found God, Complete Works II - Letters from Carmel, translated from the French by Nash, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Quote of the day: 19 October

He was very old when I came to know him, and so extremely weak that it seemed he was made of nothing but tree roots.

Saint Teresa of Avila

The Book of Her Life, Chap. 27

 

Peter of Alcantara shows Teresa d'Avila the way to paradise - Francesco Fontebasso - Cappella Giustinian dei Vescovi - San Francesco della Vigna, Venice
Peter of Alcantara shows, to Teresa d’Avila, the way to paradise Francesco Fontebasso Cappella Giustinian dei Vescovi of San Francesco della Vigna (Venice)

Quote of the day: 18 October

Ordinary Process

Beatification of Thérèse of the Child Jesus
Witness 3 — Marie of the Sacred Heart

 

Our parents were reputed to be extremely devout. Our mother fasted during Lent, without using the mitigations permitted. Every day my father and mother attended Mass at 5:30 am, because they said it was the poor people’s Mass. They took Communion frequently, more than once a week, which was quite exceptional for the time. In Lisieux, my father took Communion four or five times a week. My mother loathed society life and wanted nothing luxurious in the house. Reading the life of Madame Acarie (Bl. Marie of the Incarnation) one day, our mother said, “How fortunate she was to have given her three daughters to God!” Our mother had an extremely energetic and lively character, but was not harsh, with a very sensitive and very generous heart. Above all she showed great abnegation which meant she was self-forgetful and worked very arduously in order to have the means to give us a thorough Christian education. Also, in hardship, for example when my brothers and sisters died, she showed astonishing strength of character. Yet you can see from her letters that her heart was broken; but her faith helped her overcome everything. Our father’s dominant characteristic was great righteousness. He made it his duty to affirm his faith, even in front of unbelievers. When the priest brought the Holy Viaticum to our dying mother, he decided to accompany the Blessed Sacrament all the way to the church himself, holding a candle. He was very charitable and wholly devoted to his neighbor, never allowing ill to be spoken of anyone. His overall character gave an impression of goodness. He was also noted for his very pure life, which was reflected in his whole person. He was extremely careful to distance us from anything he considered to be a temptation.

 

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The official portrait for the canonization banner of Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, 18 October 2015 | Photo credit: Discalced Carmelites

 

 

Apostolic Process

Canonization of Thérèse of the Child Jesus
Witness 7 — Marie of the Sacred Heart

 

Our parents were models of every virtue; they attended Holy Mass every day, rising at 5 o’clock in the morning to do so. They would fast throughout Lent without slackening. They observed Sunday rest very faithfully. They would not have taken the liberty to arrange a trip on a Sunday, even a needful one. My father lost many sales opportunities because, unlike the other jewelers in town, he refused to open his shop on Sundays, even though his confessor left him free to do so.

My father had a generous character and placed human dignity above all else. He would never pass by a church without bowing, in whoever’s company he was. He would faithfully attend Night Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament every month, and when he moved to Lisieux, he obtained permission to establish the practice in the town. My father and mother had a deep faith, and to hear them talk together about heaven, though we were very young, we came to consider the things of the world as pure vanities.

My mother watched over the spiritual life of her children very carefully, and the smallest of faults would never go unchecked. She very much hoped to see signs of future sainthood in us. Referring to Thérèse, she said, “As for Thérèse, I do not yet know what she will be; she is so small! However, she has an intelligence that I haven’t seen in any of my children, and she always wears an angelic smile”.

My father and mother had a great devotion to the Bl. Virgin. That’s why they gave the name Mary to all their children, both boys and girls. Before he married, my father placed a statue of the Bl. Virgin on a path in his garden, and later it would become very dear to the whole family. It was this very statue that was in Thérèse’s childhood bedroom and which came to life and smiled at her when she was very sick. Praying at the foot of the same statue, my mother was granted very great favours. My parents were very helpful to the poor. When a servant happened to fall ill with rheumatoid arthritis, my mother treated her herself, day and night, for several weeks, not wishing to send her back to her parents because they were poor.

 


On 18 October 2015 Pope Francis canonized Marie Azélie Guérin and Louis Martin, the first spouses to be canonized as a married couple.  You can learn more about the astounding miracle that led to their canonization in the video below. You can view photos of the canonization Mass here. Blessed be God forever!

 

Quote of the day: 17 October

October 17, 1871

… I’m grief-stricken, my heart is as broken as when I lost my own children. I see you all in tears, next to your little loved one, who died under such distressing conditions [Paul Guérin was delivered stillborn on October 16, 1871]. And yet God has still granted you a great grace since he had time to be baptized. So, my dear friend, you have to have courage, and I don’t think you lack it. You have enough strength and faith to endure the afflictions of life.

I received your letter just as I was sitting down at the table with company because we had people over. I assure you, what I ate didn’t hurt me. I could eat nothing. My heart was so shattered, I couldn’t breathe. If I could only cry when I’m like this, but no, this relief is denied me. When I’m in great pain, I can’t cry.

I was supposed to be the godmother, and I was rejoicing so much over that! Well! It’s destined that all my celebrations turn out this way….

I don’t know why, but I had a vague premonition of some misfortune. Saturday night, on receiving the dress that I’d had made for the occasion, I said to myself, “I’m rejoicing too much, something terrible could very well happen.”

I wasn’t wrong. If the child had died after several days, I would feel less pain, but given the way things took place, I imagine that it was the doctor’s fault.

As you see, my dear friend, I’m giving you peculiar consolations, but I don’t know what I’m doing anymore. I can’t console you because I myself need to be consoled. When I saw our guests, during lunch, enjoying themselves as if nothing upsetting had happened, I felt a lot of bitterness. Don’t think, however, that Louis was one of them, because he was very sensitive to your pain and speaks of it constantly.

We’re going over in our minds all the suffering and all the troubles your poor wife has had to endure the last six months, and we’re bemoaning the sad ending. Yes, this is very hard. However, my dear friend, let’s not complain, God is the Master. For our own good, He may allow us to suffer a great deal, but never without His help and His grace.

Yesterday I received, at the same time, a letter from our aunt, Madame Frédéric Guérin, announcing the death of her husband (the brother of their father, Isidore, Sr.), who was struck down by a stroke last Tuesday. She invited us to the service that will take place on Thursday. She didn’t give me any detail. I don’t know if he had time to see a priest. This saddened me, but not nearly as much as the news you gave me.

If you can write once before I come to see you, you would make me happy. Tell me, above all, if the child was alive when he was baptized. The doctor should really have baptized him before his birth. When they see a child in danger, it’s always there that they should begin.

While waiting for a letter from you, I hug you with all my heart.

Saint Zélie Martin

Letter CF 71 to her brother Isidore Guérin

 

 

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Photo by Trina Snow on Pexels.com

Quote of the day: 16 October

Edith Stein was a Carmelite even while she was in the world.

In all actuality, for Edith Stein entrance into Carmel was a descent from the height of a distinguished career to the depth of insignificance. Maybe she herself did not perceive this as we see it.

But when she left behind the world at her crossing the threshold of Carmel, did not everything that gave her prominence in that world sink with it and lower her to the level of the humanly commonplace?

She was received into the Cologne Carmel as just another postulant.

Most of the Sisters had not even heard of her before. None of them was aware of her public activities; very few would have been able to follow her if she had tried to introduce them into her own intellectual world.

But no one thought about this—least of all Edith herself. Everyone assumed, quite naturally, that she should undertake the thousand and one little tasks that a postulant has to get used to from the first day. And it was moving to watch the childlike way in which Edith struggled to fall in with the regulations of the house at every point, promptly responding to all requests and trying to accustom herself to this new mode of life.

Sister Teresia Renata Posselt, O.C.D.

Edith Stein: The Life of a Philosopher and Carmelite, Chap. 14

 

Flemish Emblems Humility British Museum AN01132143_001_l
Humility (ootmoedigeyt)
Anonymous Flemish, 17th c.
Engraving on paper, 1685-1686
British Museum
From the Flemish Emblems series, the emblem of humility is exemplified by a nun standing in a room near a bed, holding a ball in her hand and stepping on a crown with her foot.
Photo credit: British Museum Online Collection (Creative Commons)

 

 

Posselt, T 2005, Edith Stein: The Life of a Philosopher and Carmelite, translated from the German by Batzdorff S, Koeppel J, and Sullivan J, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

Quote of the day: 15 October

But what disorder in the way I write! Really, it’s as though the work were done by one who doesn’t know what she’s doing. The fault is yours, Sisters, because you are the ones who ordered me to write this. Read it as best you can, for I am writing it as best I can. And if you find that it is all wrong, burn it. Time is necessary to do the work well, and I have so little as you see, for eight days must have gone by in which I haven’t written anything. So I forget what I have said and also what I was going to say. Now it is wrong for me to ask you to avoid doing what I have just finished doing, that is, making excuses. For I see that not making excuses for oneself is a habit characteristic of high perfection, and very meritorious; it gives great edification. And although I have often taught it to you, and by God’s goodness you practice it, His Majesty has never given it to me.

Saint Teresa of Avila

The Way of Perfection, Chap. 15

 

 

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Saint John Paul II blessed the monument of St. Teresa next to the Gate of Alcazar during his visit to Avila for the closing of the fourth centenary jubilee year of her death, 1 November 1982. During his homily at the Mass, he said, “I have come here today to Avila to adore the Wisdom of God.” | Photo credit: Teresa de la rueca a la pluma

 

 

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.

Quote of the day: 14 October

I repeat, it is necessary that your foundation consist of more than prayer and contemplation. If you do not strive for the virtues and practice them, you will always be dwarfs. And, please God, it will be only a matter of not growing, for you already know that whoever does not increase decreases. I hold that love, where present, cannot possibly be content with remaining always the same.

Saint Teresa of Avila

The Interior Castle: VII:4

 

Stunted Growth Scott Jungling Flickr 35436886661_8b265fe5ac_o
Stunted Growth | Scott Jungling / Flickr

 

 

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.

Quote of the day: 13 October

I gave myself to Love Divine,
And lo! my lot so changèd is
That my Beloved One is mine
And I at last am surely His.

When that sweet Huntsman from above
First wounded me and left me prone,
Into the very arms of Love
My stricken soul forthwith was thrown.
Since then my life’s no more my own
And all my lot so changèd is
That my Beloved One is mine
And I at last am surely His.

The dart wherewith He wounded me
Was all embarbèd round with love,
And thus my spirit came to be
One with its Maker, God above.
No love but this I need to prove:
My life to God surrender’d is
And my Beloved One is mine
And I at last am surely His.

Saint Teresa of Avila

Poems III. I gave myself to Love Divine

 

 

'Santa Teresa'_David Manzur (lápiz y pastel) Bogota
Santa Teresa
David Manzur Londoño (Colombian, 1929- )
Graphite and pastel
Museum of Visual Arts, Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano
Bogotá, Colombia

 

 

de Jesús, T 1963, The complete works, vol. III, The Book of Foundations, minor prose works, poems, documents and indices, translated and edited by Peers, E, Sheed and Ward, London.

Quote of the day: 12 October

A long-time after the Lord had already granted me many of the favors I’ve mentioned and other very lofty ones, while I was in prayer one day, I suddenly found that, without knowing how, I had seemingly been put in hell. I understood that the Lord wanted me to see the place the devils had prepared there for me and which I merited because of my sins…

What I felt, it seems to me, cannot even begin to be exaggerated; nor can it be understood. I experienced a fire in the soul that I don’t know how I could describe. The bodily pains were so unbearable that though I had suffered excruciating ones in this life and according to what doctors say, the worst that can be suffered on earth… these were all nothing in comparison with the ones I experienced there. I saw furthermore that they would go on without end and without ever ceasing.

This, however, was nothing next to the soul’s agonizing: a constriction, a suffocation, an affliction so keenly felt and with such a despairing and tormenting unhappiness that I don’t know how to word it strongly enough… I felt myself burning and crumbling, and I repeat the worst was that interior fire and despair.

Saint Teresa of Avila

The Book of Her Life: Chap. 32

 

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Thomas Hawk / Flickr

 

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.

Quote of the day: 11 October

O Eternal Father! How much this humility deserves! What treasure do we have that could buy Your Son? The sale of Him, we already know, was for thirty pieces of silver. [Mt 26:15] But to buy Him, no price is sufficient. Since by sharing in our nature, He has become one with us here below—and as Lord of His own will—He reminds the Father that because He belongs to Him, the Father, in turn, can give Him to us. And so He says, “our bread.” He doesn’t make any difference between Himself and us, but we make one by not giving ourselves up each day for His Majesty.

Saint Teresa of Avila

The Way of Perfection: Chap. 33

 

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Photo by Yang Jing on Unsplash

 

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.

Quote of the day: 10 October

 

There came to my mind what I shall now speak about, that which will provide us with a basis to begin with. It is that we consider our soul to be like a castle made entirely out of a diamond or of very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms, just as in heaven there are many dwelling places. For in reflecting upon it carefully, Sisters, we realize that the soul of the just person is nothing else but a paradise where the Lord says He finds His delight….

Well if this is true, as it is, there is no reason to tire ourselves in trying to comprehend the beauty of this castle. Since this castle is a creature and the difference, therefore, between it and God is the same as that between the Creator and His creature, His Majesty in saying that the soul is made in His own image makes it almost impossible for us to understand the sublime dignity and beauty of the soul.

Saint Teresa of Avila

The Interior Castle: I:1

 

Prague Castle polina-podlesnaya-82RJm8VETb8-unsplash
Prague Castle | Polina Podlesnaya / Unsplash

 

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.

Quote of the day: 9 October

The thought comes to me now that our good Jesus showed us the weakness of His humanity previous to the trials, and when He was in the abyss of His sufferings showed such great fortitude that He not only did not complain but did nothing that would make it appear He was suffering with weakness. When He went to the garden, He said: My soul is sorrowful even to death. 

Yet, while on the cross, for He was already suffering death, He did not complain. Nor did He do so when in the prayer of the garden He went to awaken His apostles. With greater reason might He have complained to His Mother and our Lady when she was at the foot of the cross, and not asleep but suffering in her most holy soul and dying a harsh death; it always consoles us more to complain to those who we know feel our trials and love us more.

Saint Teresa of Avila

Meditations on the Song of Songs: Chap. 3

 

Crucifixion_View From the Cross_Tissot_Brooklyn Museum
What Our Lord Saw from the Cross (Ce que voyait Notre-Seigneur sur la Croix), James Tissot (French, 1836-1902), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray-green wove paper, Brooklyn Museum | Download this image on the museum website and learn more here

 

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.

Quote of the day: 8 October

Whoever has not begun the practice of prayer, I beg for the love of the Lord not to go without so great a good. There is nothing here to fear but only something to desire…

For mental prayer, in my opinion, is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.

Saint Teresa of Avila

The Book of Her Life, Chapter 8, No. 5

 

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A vendor pauses to pray in the market in Cali, Colombia | Cindy Muñoz / Flickr

 

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.

Quote of the day: 7 October

The prioress should see to it that good books are available, especially The Life of Christ by the Carthusian, the Flos Sanctorum, The Imitation of Christ, The Oratory of Religious, and those books written by Fray Luis de Granada and by Father Fray Pedro de Alcántara. This sustenance for the soul is in some way as necessary as is food for the body.

Saint Teresa of Avila

Constitutions, 8

 

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An image of St. Teresa’s letter to Madre María de San José in Sevilla, written from Toledo, 11 November 1576. St. Teresa writes, “Jesus be with your reverence. Always include on a small piece of paper a list of the things you want me to answer. Your letters are long — although they don’t seem so, because of the joy they give me; but if when in a hurry I have to read them all over in order to answer them, they do seem long. I wrote you two, three, or four days ago that I would put two crosses on the letters for our padre but with your address. Let me know when you receive this message because I will not start doing this until then.” | rrocio / iStock  

 

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.

Quote of the day: 6 October

I do not know what is happening. My Master caught hold of me and made me understand that today the Mother and child are beginning a new life, “wholly present to Love, wholly within pure Love.”

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity

Letter 321 to Mother Germaine of Jesus
October (4th or 9th), 1906

 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Elizabeth of the Trinity, St 1995, I Have Found God : Complete Works. II, Letters from Carmel, translated from the French by Nash, E, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Quote of the day: 5 October

The Apparitions of St. Teresa

As told by Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew

 

Teresian expert Father Kieran Kavanaugh reminds us that “on September 29 the Madre went to bed never to rise again. She had suffered a hemorrhaging from which it was understood that she would die.”

Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew was constantly at her side throughout those final days. She herself writes, “I did not leave her for a moment. I begged the religious to bring me what was necessary for her. I gave it to her. It was a consolation to her for me to do so.”

On 3 October, her condition worsened; the doctor administered a painful cupping treatment, Father Kavanaugh explains. On 4 October, the feast of St. Francis, Fr. Kavanaugh says that “she remained in prayer, in deep quiet and peace, without speaking or stirring throughout the whole day.”

Poor Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew, who had virtually no respite for hours, was ordered by Father Antonio of Jesus (Heredia)St. John of the Cross’ companion in the first foundation of Discalced Carmelite friars at Duruelo“to go and get something to eat. But Teresa began looking about, and when Antonio asked her if she was looking for Sister Ana, she gestured affirmatively.”

Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew hurried back to St. Teresa’s cell. . .

 

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Panel from the great reliquary of Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew in Antwerp depicts the death of St. Teresa in her arms | Tijl Vereenooghe, erfgoed / Flickr

 


As soon as she saw me, she smiled at me, showed me such condescension and affection that she caught me with her two hands and rested her head in my arms. I held her thus in my embrace until she expired.

As the Saint loved me so much, I had begged her to console me, and to ask of our Lord for me perfect liberty of spirit, without attachment for anyone whomsoever. I was naturally affectionate, and I loved the Saint more than anyone could love her, also the other religious whom I saw advanced in perfection and loved by the Saint.

I loved them very much, and sometimes the Saint told me this attachment for friends was not good for my soul, and I must overcome it for my spiritual welfare; but until that hour when God called her to Himself, I had not succeeded.

It was she who obtained this grace for me, for from that time I was free and detached and it seemed to me that I had a yet greater love for the religious, loving them without any mixture of self-love; and, for the rest, it was as if I were alone in the world. I love all my Sisters in God and for God.

I received such strength of soul to prepare the body of the Saint for burial, that I did it with as much calmness as if her death had been a matter of indifference to me.

I wished to remain in that convent, but neither the Superior nor the religious of the Monastery of Avila, to which I belonged, would give their consent. They sent for me in haste. I felt some perplexity of soul. But the Saint appeared to me and said: “My daughter, obey the command given you, and depart!”

From the time of my return to the Convent of Avila, I prayed to the Saint and recommended myself to her. I spoke of this to my confessor. He told me it was wrong to recommend myself to a Saint who was not yet canonized and commanded me not to do it.

That same night whilst asleep, the Saint appeared to me most glorious and resplendent. She said to me: “My child, ask of me anything you wish and I will obtain it for you.”

Awakening, then, I said to her: ‘I ask of you the Spirit of God, that it may always dwell in my soul.”

She disappeared, leaving me in perfect certainty of the opinion I had formed of her sanctity. The command of my confessor, however, did not fail to cause me pain, for he had told me not to pray to her as a Saint. Even had not the signal favors granted her by God, and which proved that He loved her, led me to think her such, the consideration alone of the love with which she had endured for God so many labors, of which I was witness, and in which I had taken some part, would cause me to state as a certainty that she was a real Saint.

From the time in which she appeared to me in such great glory, as I have already narrated, I earnestly desired that her holy body should be brought back to Avila. One day, occupied with this thought, and believing that they feared to remove the holy body because they knew not in what condition they would find it, I fervently begged of our Lord to make this known to me.

Immediately I entered into a spiritual slumber, and angels carried me to the sepulcher; they opened it and showed me the body; it was entire, having the same color as when later they brought it forth from the tomb, and it exhaled the same odor and perfume.

The angels showed me two sleeves on her arms, also entire and in the same condition as when I placed them there. They said: “Are you satisfied? Do you wish anything more?”

I replied yes, that I would be more satisfied if I saw the Saint in her own convent at Avila, but that the Duke of Alba would never consent to it.

They said to me: “Do not make any account of the opposition of the Duke of Alba. It is the king who will decide; this matter depends on him alone.”

 

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The heart of St. Teresa is preserved in a reliquary  above the altar of the Carmel of Alba de Tormes | Photo credit: annabelfrage.com

 

The Duke and Duchess of Alba died soon after, and the king, to please his heirs, was unwilling that the holy body should be transferred to Avila. Before this happened, the Order earnestly desired the translation of the holy body from Alba to Avila.

My tender affection for the Saint led me to recommend the affair to God with great fervor. Our Lord said to me: “Do not be troubled; the holy body will return to this house.”

Continuing with importunity, I asked our Lord when this would take place, because I was eager to know. He replied: “It will be on the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin.”

There was still almost a year to wait; but on the day fixed the thing was accomplished; they took the body of the Saint from the house at Alba and transferred it to that of Avila.

It was received there with the liveliest transports of joy. The number of lights burning was so great the convent seemed like heaven. The Saint gave a thousand proofs of tenderness towards her children; in whatever part of the convent they might be, she appeared to them and consoled them.

 

Apparition in Segovia Cuzco artist Patrimonio Catolico Pero
One of St Teresa’s many apparitions to her nuns is captured in this 18th c. Peruvian oil painting by an unidentified Cuzco artist | Photo credit: PESSCA Archives

 

Anne of St. Bartholomew, M; Bouix, M 1917,  Autobiography of the Blessed Mother Anne of Saint Bartholomew, inseparable companion of Saint Teresa, and foundress of the Carmels of Pontoise, Tours and Antwerp, translated from the French by anonymous, H. S. Collins Printing Co., Saint Louis.

 

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.

Quote of the day: 4 October

The Death of St Teresa

As told by Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew

 

The day of her death she was unable to speak from early morning; in the evening, the Father who was attending her (Father Anthony of Jesus, one of the two first Discalced Carmelites) told me to go take some nourishment.

But scarcely had I left than the Saint became restless; with an anxious air she looked from one side to the other. The Father asked her if she wished me near her. She answered yes, by signs.

They called me; I hastened back.

As soon as she saw me, she smiled at me, showed me such condescension and affection that she caught me with her two hands and rested her head in my arms. I held her thus in my embrace until she expired, being more dead than the Saint herself; for, as for her, she was so inflamed with love for her Spouse that she sighed for the moment of parting from her body in order to be with Him.

As our Lord is so good and saw how little patience I had to bear this cross, He appeared to me at the foot of the Saint’s bed in all His Majesty, accompanied by His blessed ones who came to seek her soul.

This glorious vision lasted the space of a Credo, giving me time to exchange my pain and grief for a great resignation, to ask pardon of our Lord and say to Him:

“My Lord, even should Your Majesty wish to leave her for my consolation, I would ask you, now that I have witnessed your glory, not to leave her one moment in this exile.”

Scarcely had I uttered these words than she expired, and this blessed soul soared like a dove to enjoy the possession of her God.

 

Death of St Teresa - Madrid San Jorge
Death of St. Teresa
Polychrome wood
Church of San Jorge, Madrid

 


Saint Teresa of Avila died in the arms of her nurse and companion, Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew, at 9:00 in the evening on the 4th of October in the year 1582 in the Carmel of Alba de Tormes.

But why was St. Teresa in Alba de Tormesnot in Avila? Translator and editor Fr. Kieran Kavanagh explains:

Antonio de Jesús [Heredia], who was acting as vicar provincial while Gracián was in Andalusia, came to Medina with the news that the Mother Foundress must go to Alba de Tormes because of the election of a prioress that was to take place there and because the Duchess of Alba wanted to see her. Still weak from her lingering illness, longing to get back to Avila, Teresa fell into a deep sadness. The vicar provincial’s orders and their effect on the Madre remained fixed in mind. This incident became for the devoted infirmarian a key example of Teresa’s virtue.

In our quote of the day for 3 October, we had read Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew’s testimony of the exhaustion of Teresa at their arrival in Alba de Tormes. Blessed Anne’s own words provide a resume of the situation: “from Burgos to Alba the route was one chain of sufferings for the saint.”

Father Kavanagh continues the account:

As for the election of a prioress in Alba, it seems there was little that was edifying in the community. No doubt Father Antonio thought Teresa’s presence would inspire better behavior and change some attitudes. In a previous letter, dated August 6, to the founding benefactress, Teresa Layz, Madre Teresa indicated some of the problems of the Alba community and bluntly states her displeasure over the conduct of some of the nuns. She worries that no prioress will want to stay there very long since so many are trying to get out of the office. “If the nuns are what they ought to be,” the Madre writes, “what will it matter to them who the prioress is? But these are childish ways and reveal attachments that are far from being appropriate for discalced nuns, nor are they found in other houses.” This is the community in which Teresa was to end her days.

Father Kavanagh also mentions that another visitor to Our Holy Mother, “perhaps on September 28, was her sister Doña Juana de Ahumada to whom Teresa manifested her desire to move on to Avila. But on September 29 the Madre went to bed never to rise again. She had suffered a hemorrhaging from which it was understood that she would die. Doctors who have studied the remaining descriptions of her last illness believe that the actual cause of Teresa’s death was cancer of the uterus.”

Another medical detail mentioned by Kavanagh:

On October 3, in the morning, the barber-surgeon put the Mother Foundress through the painful ordeal of cupping, a remedy that was prevalent in those times and meant to facilitate the excretion of certain liquids and humors.

For centuries, we have heard the story that her last words were en fin soy hija de la Iglesia… “Finally, I am a daughter of the Church.” But there are more details to share that Carmelite scholars like Father Kieran Kavanaugh can reveal. We will let him tell the rest of the story:

In the testimony given by witnesses, there is a general agreement concerning the themes of the prayers spoken aloud by Teresa on the eve of her death before and after receiving the Eucharist and after receiving the Sacrament of the Sick. On the one hand, she revealed her intense feelings of sorrow at being a sinner, repeating pleas for mercy from God. This she did through verses taken from a psalm and spoken in Latin as she had learned them through choral recitation of the prayer of the Church. On the other hand she revealed her awareness of approaching union with Christ her Bridegroom and her urgent longings for that moment. The words denote an active surge of loving energy and searching rather than an attitude of passive waiting. “Now the hour has struck.”

Further, in her thankfulness for being a daughter of the Church, she rejoiced in the thought of her Mother the Church, where she found the deposit of revelation, the norm of faith, the administration of the sacraments, the Christian family; this Church was now to offer her the Blood of Christ, the grace of redemption.

The following day, the feast of St. Francis (the little poor man of Assisi), her face was aglow, and with a crucifix, in her hands, she remained in prayer, in deep quiet and peace, without speaking or stirring throughout the whole day. In the evening, a couple of hours before she died, Padre Antonio told Blessed Ana [Anne of St. Bartholomew] who had been continually at her foundress’s side to go and get something to eat. But Teresa began looking about, and when Antonio asked her if she was looking for Sister Ana, she gestured affirmatively.

When Ana returned, Teresa smiled and with tender love took the humble Sister’s arms and placed her head in them. In this manner, the saintly Madre remained until she died between nine and ten that evening. She was surrounded by all the nuns in the community. Her niece Teresita, Blessed Ana, Padre Antonio de Jesús, and Padre Tomás de la Asención were also present.

After her death, her countenance turned as white as alabaster and being freed of every wrinkle took on an extraordinary beauty. A powerful and pleasing fragrance began to flow from her body and spread through the entire house, indeed as the truths of her profound writings would one day spread through the world. Hers had been a life unexplainable without God and without the grace that comes through Jesus Christ.

When Pope Gregory XIII issued the papal bull Inter Gravissimas in February 1582 to reform the Julian calendar, King Philip II decreed that Spain and all Spanish territories would observe the change in the calendar specified by the Vatican. Therefore, Thursday 4 October on the Julian calendar was followed by Friday 15 October on the newly reformed Gregorian calendar.

 

Death of St Teresa - Cathedral of Almudena
Death of Saint Teresa
Sr. Isabel Guerra, O.Cist. (Spanish, 1947 – )
Oil on canvas
Almudena Cathedral, Madrid 

 

Images of the death of St. Teresa from the churches of Madrid are courtesy of the Iconografía Teresiana pages on the website of the Discalced Carmelite nuns of Alba de Tormes.

 

Anne of St. Bartholomew, M; Bouix, M 1917,  Autobiography of the Blessed Mother Anne of Saint Bartholomew, inseparable companion of Saint Teresa, and foundress of the Carmels of Pontoise, Tours and Antwerp, translated from the French by anonymous, H. S. Collins Printing Co., Saint Louis.

 

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.

 

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