Ana Garcia was born at Almendral, Castille, in 1549. In 1572 she made her profession as a Carmelite in the hands of St Teresa at Saint Joseph’s, Avila. The Saint later chose her as her companion and nurse, and she subsequently brought the Teresian spirit to France and Belgium, where she proved herself, like Teresa, a daughter of the Church in her great zeal for the salvation of souls. She died at Antwerp in 1626.
From the common of virgins
Office of Readings
From the Meditations on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Blessed Anne of Saint Bartholomew (Autog. MS monast. St. Teresa, Madrid)
Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart
According to Saint Bernard, it is the person who keeps silent and says nothing when things go wrong who is really humble. It is very virtuous, he says, to keep silent when people are talking about our true faults, but more perfect when we are slighted or accused without having committed any fault or sin. And though it is virtuous indeed to bear this in silence, it is more perfect still to want to be despised and thought mad and good-for-nothing, and to go on, as our Lord Jesus Christ did, wholeheartedly loving those who despise us.
If Jesus kept silent, it was not because he hated anyone. He was simply saying to his eternal Father what he said on the cross: Lord, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. What infinite love burned in that sacred heart of yours, Lord Jesus! Without uttering a single word you spoke to us; without a word you worked the mysteries you came to accomplish—teaching virtue to the ignorant and blind. What our Lord did was no small thing. Where should we get patience and humility and poverty and the other virtues, and how could we carry each other’s burdens and cross, if Christ had not taught us all this first, and given himself as a living model of all perfection?
Blessed silence! In it, you cry out and preach to the whole world by your example. Volumes could be written about your silence, Lord! There is more wisdom to be learned from it by those who love you than from books or study.
Our Lord became a spring of Living water for us so that we should not die of thirst among all the miseries that surround us. How truly he said in the Gospel that he came to serve and not to be served! What tremendous goodness! Can we fail to be shamed by your words and deeds, and the patience you show with us every day? How truly, again Lord, did you say: Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart. Where can we obtain this patience and humbleness of heart? Is there any way to achieve it except by taking it from Christ as he taught it to us with those other virtues we need—faith, hope, and charity? Without faith, we cannot follow that royal road of the divine mysteries. It is faith that opens our eyes and makes us see the truth; and where faith is wanting there is no light and no way leading to goodness.
Responsory Proverbs 3:5, 6 R/. Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and do not rely on your own intelligence; * and he will make straight your paths (alleluia). R/. Wherever you go be mindful of him, * and he will make straight your paths (alleluia).
Canticle of Zechariah Ant. Where humility is, there is wisdom; the wisdom of the humble will protect them from defeat (alleluia).
rewarder of the humble,
you blessed your servant Anne of Saint Bartholomew
with outstanding charity and patience.
May her prayers help us, and her example inspire us,
to carry our cross
and be faithful in loving you,
and others for your sake.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Canticle of Mary Ant. God has chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to those who love him (alleluia).
we had the happiness of going to com[muni]on, the Same hour as before. mr neale receiv’d it from mr P. after having given it to us. the weather fine wind fair, some part of the day was almost a calm. I was dressed in a fine Silk petticoat and a chince jacket th[a]t had been given me in alms — w[hi]ch was So becoming & made me look So Extraordinarily fine th[a]t all my companions were jealous of me.
Mother Clare Joseph of the Sacred Heart, O.C.D. (Frances Dickinson, 1755-1830) Journal of a Trip to America, 3rd June 1790
Mother Clare Joseph of the Sacred Heart, O.C.D. was one of four foundresses of the Teresian Carmel in the United States of America in the summer of 1790. To her fell the task of keeping a daily journal of their ocean voyage aboard the three-masted, square-sailed, merchant frigate Brothers from Texel, Netherlands— departing 25 April — to New York, where they arrived on “friday Morning the 2d of July”. Although she makes no mention of it in her diary entry on the third of June, Mother Clare Joseph was quietly celebrating the anniversary of her profession in the Carmel of Antwerp on 3 June 1773. As for the mention of the petticoat and jacket: the nuns traveled in civilian attire.
The book called The Way of Perfection written by Teresa of Jesus, a nun of the Order of our Lady of Mount Carmel. This book is intended for the discalced nuns who observe the primitive rule of our Lady of Mount Carmel.
This book deals with the advice and counsel Teresa of Jesus gives to her religious Sisters and daughters who live in the monasteries that, with the help of our Lord and the glorious Virgin Mother of God, our Lady, she founded. These monasteries follow the primitive rule of our Lady of Mount Carmel. She directs her counsel particularly to the Sisters at St. Joseph’s monastery in Avila, which was the first foundation and the place where she was prioress when she wrote this book.
In all that I say in this book I submit to what our Mother the Holy Roman Church holds. If there should be anything contrary to that, it will be due to my not understanding the matter. And so I beg the learned men who will see this work to look it over carefully and to correct any mistake there may be as to what the Church holds, as well as any other mistakes in other matters. If there should be anything good in this work,may it be for the honor and glory of God and the service of His most Blessed Mother, our Lady and Patroness, whose habit I wear despite my being very unworthy to do so.
Saint Teresa of Avila Foreword to the Way of Perfection
The foundation of St. Joseph of Carmel in the city of Seville
Preparations were immediately begun for the journey because it was beginning to get very hot… We journeyed in wagons well covered, which was our mode of traveling… Although we hurried along on our journey, we did not reach Seville until the Thursday before Trinity Sunday, [26 May 1575] after having endured scorching heat.
Even though we did not travel during siesta time, I tell you, Sisters, that since the sun was beating on the wagons, getting into them was like stepping into purgatory.
Sometimes by thinking of hell, at other times by thinking that something was being done and suffered for God, those Sisters journeyed with much happiness and joy.
The six souls who were with me were of the kind that made me think I was daring enough to go off with them to the land of the Turks and that they had the fortitude, or better, our Lord gave them the fortitude, to suffer for Him; for this was the subject of their desires and conversations. They were very experienced in prayer and mortification.
Saint Teresa of Avila The Book of Her Foundations, Chap. 24
A priest from Villanueva de la Jara brought me letters from the town council there
The Foundation of Villanueva de la Jara and Venerable Catalina de Cardona
Excerpts from the Book of Her Foundations, Chapter 28
One day after I received Communion I was recommending this matter to God as I often used to do. For what made me answer them somewhat favorably was the fear of hindering spiritual progress in souls, for my desire is always to be some means by which our Lord may be praised and that there be more to serve Him. While I was praying in this way, His Majesty reprimanded me sternly, asking me with what treasures that which had been done so far had been accomplished and telling me that I should not hesitate to accept this house, that it would be for His great service and the spiritual progress of souls….
We had to go to the monastery of our Lady of Succor, already mentioned, which is three leagues from Villanueva, and stay there so as to inform the town that we were coming, which had been agreed upon with these Fathers, and it was right that in everything I obey these Fathers with whom we were traveling. This house stood in a delightfully isolated and solitary spot. And as we approached, the friars came out in procession to meet their prior. Since they were discalced and wore their poor, coarse woolen mantles, they inspired us all with devotion and moved me to tender feelings since it seemed to me that I was present in that flourishing time of our holy Fathers of old. In that field, they appeared to be like white fragrant flowers, and indeed I believe that before God they are, for in my opinion He is authentically served there. They entered the church singing the Te Deum with voices very restrained. The entrance to it is underground, as though through a cave, which represented that of our Father Elijah. Certainly, I was feeling so much interior joy that I would have considered a longer journey well worthwhile. I regretted very much that the saintly woman through whom our Lord founded this house was now dead. I didn’t deserve to see her, although I had desired to do so very much.
On seeing the penance that was done by this holy woman, may you realize, my Sisters, how far behind we are and may you try harder to serve our Lord
It seems to me that it would not be an idle thing to tell something here about her life and the means by which our Lord desired that this monastery be founded there. It has been of such benefits to souls in the surrounding area, as I have been told. On seeing the penance that was done by this holy woman, may you realize, my Sisters, how far behind we are and may you try harder to serve our Lord. There is no reason that we should do less, for we do not come from such noble and refined family descent. Although this is not important, I am mentioning it because she had lived a comfortable life in keeping with her status in society, for she was a descendant of the dukes of Cardona and thus she was called Doña Catalina de Cardona. After she had written to me a few times, she signed her letter with only the words, “the sinner.”
she was called
Doña Catalina de Cardona
she signed her letter
with only the words, the sinner
While this saintly woman was living among the nobility, she was always very concerned about her soul and did penance. The desire for penance greatly increased in her and also the longing to go where she could be alone to enjoy God and dedicate herself to doing penance without any hindrance….
She disclosed her plans to a hermit who was living in Alcalá and, without ever telling anyone about them, asked him to accompany her. They arrived at the place where the monastery now stands, and there she found a tiny cave hardly large enough for her; here he left her. But what love must have been hers since she wasn’t worried about what there might be to eat or about the dangerous things that could happen to her, or about the bad reputation she would have when it was discovered that she had disappeared….
Let us consider this well, Sisters, and reflect on how with one blow she conquered everything. For although what you do by entering this holy religious order, offering your will to God, and professing so continual an enclosure may not be less, I wonder whether, in the case of some, a part of this initial fervor does not pass away and out of self-love we make ourselves subject again to some things. May it please the divine Majesty that this not be so, but that since we imitate this holy woman in desiring to flee from the world we may interiorly stay far away from it in all things.
After these years that she lived there in such solitude, our Lord desired that her way of life become known, and the people began to venerate her so much that she could not get away from them…. She began to have desires that a monastery of friars be founded there, and these persisted for some time without her knowing from which order they would come. Once while praying before a crucifix she always carried with her, our Lord showed her a white mantle, and she understood that they would come from the discalced Carmelites, and she had never known that there were friars like this in the world. At the time only two monasteries of friars had been founded, Mancera and Pastrana. After this experience, she must have inquired. When she learned there was a monastery in Pastrana and since she had been in the past a close friend of the Princess of Eboli, wife of Prince Ruy Gómez, to whom Pastrana belonged, she went there to find out how she might make this foundation which she had been desiring so much.
There at the monastery of Pastrana, in the church of St. Peter, for this it is called, she received the habit of our Lady, although not with the intention of being a nun or of making profession, for she was never inclined toward being a nun since our Lord was leading her by another path. It seemed to her that if she professed obedience her plan to live in harsh austerity and solitude would be frustrated. All the friars were present when she received the habit of our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
In their company was Father Mariano, who I mentioned in these foundations. He told me that he himself had experienced at the time a suspension or rapture that carried him completely out of himself and that while in this state he saw many dead friars and nuns. Some were beheaded, some had their arms and feet cut off as though they were martyred, for martyrdom is what this vision was pointing to. And he is not the type of man who would tell what he had not seen, nor has his spirit ever been accustomed to these suspensions, for God does not lead him by such a path. Pray to God, Sisters, that this vision will come true and that we will merit in our times to see so great a blessing and be ourselves among the martyrs.
All of them have affirmed to me that the odor of sanctity emanating from her was so great that it permeated even her cincture and habit
From here, that is, from Pastrana, the holy woman of Cardona began to seek the means to found her monastery and for this purpose she went back to the court which she had so eagerly left before. Doing this must have been no small torment; it was a place where she underwent much criticism and trial. When she left the house where she was staying, she wasn’t able to protect herself from the crowd. This happened wherever she went. Some cut pieces from her habit, others from her mantle. She then went to Toledo where she stayed with our nuns. All of them have affirmed to me that the odor of sanctity emanating from her was so great that it permeated even her cincture and habit, which she exchanged for another given her by the nuns; it was something to praise God for. And the closer they came to her the greater was this fragrance, even though her manner of dress, because of the intense heat, would rather have caused a bad odor. I know that they wouldn’t say anything but the complete truth, and thus they were left with great devotion.
In the court and elsewhere they gave her the means for the monastery, and once she obtained the license, it was founded. The church was built at the place where her cave was. Another cave was made for her further away in which she had a tomb carved out, and she remained there most of the day and night. She lived this way only a short time, for about five and a half years after the monastery was built. That she lived even as long as she did seemed supernatural because of her harsh, austere life. Insofar as I can remember, she died in 1577. Her funeral services were held with greatest solemnity, for a gentleman named Fray Juan de León had great devotion to her and arranged it all with much care. She is now buried temporarily in a chapel of our Lady, to whom she was extremely devoted, until a church larger than the one they have now will be built to keep her blessed body as is fitting….
One day when I had just received Communion in that holy church, very great recollection came over me with suspension that drew me out of myself. In this suspension, through an intellectual vision, this holy woman appeared in a glorified body and some angels with her. She told me not to grow weary but that I should strive to go ahead with these foundations. I understood, although she did not indicate this, that she was helping me before God. She also told me something else but there is no reason to put it here in writing. I was left very much consoled and with a great desire to work hard, and I hope in the goodness of the Lord that with help as good as are these prayers of hers I will be able to serve Him in some way.
You can see here, my Sisters, how her trials have now come to an end, but the glory she enjoys will have no end. Let us now force ourselves for love of our Lord, to follow this sister of ours. Holding ourselves in abhorrence as she abhorred herself, we will finish our day’s journey, for it goes by so quickly and all comes to an end.
Catalina de Cardona had been governess to Don Juan de Austria, son of Charles V, and to Don Carlos, son of Philip II. In 1563 she withdrew to the solitude of La Roda, and in 1571 began to wear the Carmelite habit, but with the friar’s cowl. She died on 11 May 1577, the exact day that she herself had predicted.
If we see faults in monasteries of poor women, it is because they are poor against their will, and for no longer being able to, and no longer following the counsels of Christ; I simply do not praise poverty, but suffering with patience for the love of Christ Our Lord…
a sister of the Duke of Medinaceli, in whose home I had stayed by order of my superiors, as I mentioned more at length in writing about the foundation of St. Joseph’s. [Avila] While I was in her home, she got to like me in a special way, which in turn must have been a means by which this lady was stirred to do what she did. For His Majesty often makes use of means like these that seem fruitless to us who don’t know the future.
Since this lady knew that I had permission to found monasteries, she began to urge me very much to make a foundation in her town of Malagón.
Malagón is a small town, still today, in the province of Ciudad Real. In feudal times it belonged to the duchy of Medinaceli.
I in no way wanted to accept since the town was so small that we would be forced to have an income in order to support ourselves — something to which I was very much opposed.
Both my confessor [Domingo Báñez, O.P.] and other learned men with whom I discussed the matter told me that I was doing wrong, that since the holy Council had given permission to have an income, I shouldn’t, because of my own opinion, fail to found a monastery where God could be so much served. To this were added the many urgings of this lady which I could not resist. She provided a sufficient income, for I am always in favor of monasteries being either completely poor or maintained in such a way that the nuns will not need to beg from anyone for their needs.
I made every effort I could so that none of the nuns would possess anything, but that they would observe the constitutions in their entirety as in our other monasteries founded in poverty. Having completed all the paperwork, I sent for some Sisters to make the foundation, and along with that lady we went to Malagón. When we got there, the house was not yet ready for us to move in. And so we were detained for more than eight days in an apartment of this lady’s castle.
On Palm Sunday, [April 11] in the year 1568, with the people of the town, we went in procession to the church, in our white mantles and with veils covering our faces. A sermon was preached there, and from that church, the Blessed Sacrament was brought to our monastery. This inspired great devotion in everybody. I stayed there for some days. On one of those days, while in prayer after having received Communion, I understood from our Lord that He would be served in that house.
Saint Teresa of Avila
The Book of Her Foundations, Chap. 9
Saint Teresa urged Doña Luisa to build her nuns in Malagón a new monastery, the construction of which she supervised carefully. Inaugurated December 8, 1579, this building remains today, an exceptional relic still housing Teresa’s daughters.
I convened a chapter in Lisbon; I sent friars to the Congo to convert the Blacks, they made great gains. The first group was drowned; the second group was denuded, robbed by the Lutherans; until the arrival of the third group and they have borne much fruit.
Servant of God Jerome Gracián Efemérides Carmelitanas
On 10 April 1582, the third expedition of Discalced Carmelite friars departed from Lisbon bound for the Congo, where they safely landed and converted many people. The missionary friars were Fathers Diego of the Blessed Sacrament, Diego of the Incarnation, and Francisco of Jesus the Unworthy; they baptized thousands of Congolese.
At another time while I was at prayer, my spirit was carried off to where it seemed to be in a large field in which many were in combat, and those belonging to this order were fighting with great fervor. Their faces were beautiful and very much aglow. They conquered many, throwing them to the ground; others, they killed. It seemed to me this battle was against the heretics.
Saint Teresa of Avila The Book of Her Life: Chapter 40
The second expedition of Discalced Carmelite missionary friars, composed of Fathers Pedro de los Angeles, Sebastián de S. Andrés, Bartolomé de S. Miguel, Luis de S. Pablo, and a lay-friar left Lisbon on this date in the fleet that went to the Portuguese colony of Angola. Off the Cape Verde coast, the ship on which the missionaries were sailing was left behind, which was then trapped by four English galleons captained by privateers. Father Pedro de los Apóstoles, the superior of the friars, exhorted the Portuguese to fight and die for the Catholic faith against the anti-papist English; while he was carrying on, an English sailor slashed his neck with a knife to make all the captive Spaniards and Portuguese fear for their lives; thank God, the wound was not deadly. Thus began the dispossession of the missionaries. The English took everything the priests had brought of value — books, chalices, vestments, etc. — and they roundly mocked the friars; the privateers locked the Carmelites in the galleon’s dungeon, which was a veritable portrait of hell. They continued like this for three days in the virtual belly of the whale, eating but a few crusts of hard bread dipped in seawater. The English were going to torment everyone. But seeing the so-called Spanish “heretics” — the Discalced Carmelites — singing for joy at the opportunity to suffer for Christ, the English galleon abandoned them on one of Cape Verde’s secluded islands. Fr. Sebastián de S. Andrés died on the island. The other four friars took advantage of a Spanish ship to return to Seville. So, the second expedition to Africa failed. [Source: Efemérides Carmelitanas]
Just as the grain that dies in the earth is the beginning and origin of many others, in the same way the death of the first missionaries to the Congo in the ocean was the cause of many religious who offered themselves to the Father Provincial, with letters full of urgent pleading to go and take their places in the Congo.
Six months before her death, Saint Teresa of Avila sent the first Discalced Carmelite friars on a mission to a foreign shore. On 5 April 1582 King Philip II of Spain went to the port of Lisbon to personally bid farewell to the missionaries on board the Portuguese carrack (não) San Antonio headed to the Congo. The king himself gave the signal to the ships to cut the moorings and hoist the anchors at 6:00 in the morning. Tragically, the San Antonio sank and all on board perished.
God made the light of his Son, Jesus Christ, to shine admirably in her
Light of Christ for the whole Chilean Church, Sister Teresa of the Andes, Teresa of Jesus, is the Discalced Carmelite nun and the firstfruit of holiness of the Teresian Carmel of Latin America, who today is incorporated into the number of the Saints of the universal Church.
As we heard in the first reading from the book of Samuel, the figure of Teresa stands out not because of “his appearance or his great stature”. “The Lord sees not as man sees,” the scripture tells us; “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”. For this reason, in her young life of just over 19 years, in her 11 months as a Carmelite, God made the light of his Son, Jesus Christ, to shine admirably in her, so that she serves as a beacon and guide with the radiance of the divine to a world that seems to have become blinded.
The life of Blessed Teresa cries quietly from the cloister:
“Sólo Dios basta — God alone is enough!
To a secularized society that lives with its back turned on God, this Chilean Carmelite, who with lively joy is presented as a model of the perennial youth of the Gospel, offers the limpid testimony of an existence that proclaims to the men and women of today that loving, adoring, and serving God are the greatness and joy, the freedom and the full realization of the human creature. The life of Blessed Teresa cries quietly from the cloister: “Sólo Dios basta — God alone is enough!”
And she especially cries out to young people, hungry for truth and in search of a light that gives meaning to their lives. To young people who are hounded by continuous messages and stimuli of an eroticized culture, and a society that confuses genuine love, which is giving, with the hedonistic use of the other person, this young virgin of the Andes today proclaims the beauty and bliss that emanate from pure hearts.
A Carmelite never forgets
In her tender love for Christ, Teresa finds the essence of the Christian message: to love, to suffer, to pray, and to serve. In her family, she learned to love God above all things. And in feeling herself to be the exclusive possession of her Creator, her love for her neighbor becomes even more intense and definitive. This is stated in one of her letters: “When I love, it is forever. A Carmelite never forgets. From her small cell, she accompanies the souls that she loved in the world.”
Her enkindled love leads Teresa to desire to suffer with Jesus and like Jesus: “To suffer and love, like the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” she tells us. She wants to be an immaculate host offered in continuous and silent sacrifice for sinners. “We are co-redeemers of the world,” she will say later, “and the redemption of souls is not accomplished without a cross.”
The Carmelite is the priest’s sister
The young Chilean saint was eminently a contemplative soul. For long hours at the tabernacle and before the cross that had a prominent place in her cell, she prays and worships, pleads and atones for the redemption of the world, animating the apostolate of missionaries with the power of the Spirit and, especially, that of priests. “The Carmelite,” she will tell us, “is the priest’s sister.”
However, being contemplative like Mary of Bethany does not exempt Teresa from serving like Martha. In a world where one shamelessly struggles to excel, to possess, and to dominate, she teaches us that happiness is in being the last and the servant of all, following the example of Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life for the redemption of many.
We are co-redeemers of the world
Now, from eternity, Saint Teresa of the Andes continues interceding as an advocate for an endless number of brothers and sisters. She who found her heaven on earth espoused to Jesus, now contemplates him without veils or shadows, and from her immediate closeness, she intercedes for those who seek the light of Christ.
Saint John Paul II
Excerpts from his homily for the Mass of Canonization of Teresa of Jesus of the Andes and Claudine Thévenet 21 March 1993
See more photos from Claudio Quezada’s Flickr album from the Santuario here
This commentary on the stanzas that deal with the exchange of love between the soul and Christ, its Bridegroom, explains certain matters about prayer and its effects. It was written at the request of Mother Ana de Jesús, prioress of the Discalced Carmelite nuns of St. Joseph’s in Granada, in the year 1584.
1. These stanzas, Reverend Mother, were obviously composed with a certain burning love of God. The wisdom and charity of God is so vast, as the Book of Wisdom states, that it reaches from end to end [Wis. 8:1], and the soul informed and moved by it bears in some way this very abundance and impulsiveness in her words. As a result, I do not plan to expound these stanzas in all the breadth and fullness that the fruitful spirit of love conveys to them. It would be foolish to think that expressions of love arising from mystical understanding, like these stanzas, are fully explainable. The Spirit of the Lord, who abides in us and aids our weakness, as St. Paul says [Rom. 8:26], pleads for us with unspeakable groanings in order to manifest what we can neither fully understand nor comprehend.
Who can describe in writing the understanding he gives to loving souls in whom he dwells? And who can express with words the experience he imparts to them? Who, finally, can explain the desires he gives them? Certainly, no one can! Not even they who receive these communications. As a result, these persons let something of their experience overflow in figures, comparisons, and similitudes, and from the abundance of their spirit pour out secrets and mysteries rather than rational explanations.
If these similitudes are not read with the simplicity of the spirit of knowledge and love they contain, they will seem to be absurdities rather than reasonable utterances, as will those comparisons of the divine Song of Solomon and other books of Sacred Scripture where the Holy Spirit, unable to express the fullness of his meaning in ordinary words, utters mysteries in strange figures and likenesses. The saintly doctors, no matter how much they have said or will say, can never furnish an exhaustive explanation of these figures and comparisons, since the abundant meanings of the Holy Spirit cannot be caught in words. Thus the explanation of these expressions usually contains less than what they embody in themselves.
2. Since these stanzas, then, were composed in a love flowing from abundant mystical understanding, I cannot explain them adequately, nor is it my intention to do so. I only wish to shed some general light on them, since Your Reverence has desired this of me…
Read the official biography of the Servant of God on the website of the Discalced Carmelite General Postulation of the Causes of the Saints
Being in prayer on the feastday of the glorious St. Peter, I saw or, to put it better, I felt Christ beside me; I saw nothing with my bodily eyes or with my soul, but it seemed to me that Christ was at my side — I saw that it was He, in my opinion, who was speaking to me.
Since I was completely unaware that there could be a vision like this one, it greatly frightened me in the beginning; I did nothing but weep. However, by speaking one word alone to assure me, the Lord left me feeling as I usually did: quiet, favored, and without any fear. It seemed to me that Jesus Christ was always present at my side; but since this wasn’t an imaginative vision, I didn’t see any form.
Yet I felt very clearly that He was always present at my right side and that He was the witness of everything I did. At no time in which I was a little recollected, or not greatly distracted, was I able to ignore that He was present at my side.
Yet I felt very clearly that He was always present at my right side and that He was the witness of everything I did.
I immediately went very anxiously to my confessor to tell him. He asked me in what form I saw Him. I answered that I didn’t see Him. He asked how I knew that it was Christ.
I answered that I didn’t know how, but that I couldn’t help knowing that He was beside me, that I saw and felt Him clearly, that my recollection of soul was greater, and that I was very continuously in the prayer of quiet, that the effects were much different from those I usually experienced, and that it was very clear.
It seemed to me that Jesus Christ was always present at my side
I could do nothing but draw comparisons in order to explain myself. And, indeed, there is no comparison that fits this kind of vision very well. Since this vision is among the most sublime (as I was afterward told by a very holy and spiritual man, whose name is Friar Peter of Alcántara and of whom I shall speak later, and by other men of great learning) and the kind in which the devil can interfere the least of all, there are no means by which those of us who know little here below can explain it. Learned men will explain it better.
I couldn’t help knowing that He was beside me
I saw and felt Him clearly
my recollection of soul was greater
I was very continuously in the prayer of quiet
the effects were much different
it was very clear
We arrived in Villanueva de la Jara on the first Sunday of Lent, the feast of St. Barbaciani, [21 February] the vigil of the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, in the year 1580. On this same day at the time of the high Mass, the Blessed Sacrament was reserved in the church of the glorious St. Anne.
The city council and some others along with Doctor Ervías came out to receive us, and we got down from our wagons at the church in the town, which was quite far from St. Anne’s. The joy of the whole town was so great.
It gave me much consolation to see the happiness with which they received the order of the Blessed Virgin, our Lady.
We had heard from afar the peal of the church bells. Once we were inside the church, they began the Te Deum, one verse sung by the choir and the other played by the organ.
When it was finished, they carried the Blessed Sacrament on one portable platform and a statue of our Lady on another, and crosses and banners. The procession proceeded with much pomp.
We were in the middle near the Blessed Sacrament with our white mantles and our veils covering our faces, and next to us were many of our discalced friars from their monastery and Franciscans from the monastery of St. Francis that was located there, and one Dominican who happened to be present (even though he was alone it made me happy to see that habit there).
Since the distance was great, there were many altars set up along the way. From time to time the procession stopped and some verses were recited in honor of our order which moved us to great devotion. So did the sight of all of them praising the great God present in our midst and the fact that because of Him they paid so much honor to us seven poor, little discalced nuns who were there.
While I was engaged in all these reflections, I became very ashamed in recalling that I was among them and that if they were to do what I deserved they would all turn against me.
Saint Teresa of Avila The Book of Her Foundations, Chapter 28
We are grateful to photographer José-María Moreno García for making his photo-documentary of the Fifth Centenary visit to Saint Teresa’s foundation of Villanueva de la Jara available for download under a Creative Commons license. To see the complete photo album from this foundation, click here.
On 5 February 1895, Céline Martin was clothed in the Carmelite habit and began her novitiate in the Carmel of Lisieux. St. Thérèse wrote the Song of Gratitude of Jesus’s Fiancée as a gift for her sister’s clothing.