Saint Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, baptized as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada, (March 28, 1515 – October 4, 1582) was a prominent Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic saint, Carmelite nun, and writer of the Counter Reformation, and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. She was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered to be, along with John of the Cross, a founder of the Discalced Carmelites.
In 1622, forty years after her death, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV, and in 1970 named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI. Her books, which include her autobiography, The Life of Teresa of Jesus, and her seminal work, El Castillo Interior (The Interior Castle), are an integral part of the Spanish Renaissance literature as well as Christian mysticism and Christian meditation practices as she entails in her other important work Camino de Perfección (The Way of Perfection).
After being ordered to write her autobiographical La Vida de la Santa Madre Teresa de Jesús (The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus), Teresa was hesitant to begin writing again on her views of the perfection found in internal prayer. She started writing her seminal work, Interior Castle on June 2, 1577, Trinity Sunday, and completed it on the eve of St. Andrews Day, November 29, 1577, however there was a five months long interruption in between, effectively leaving a fortnight each for first and second halves of the book. In August 1586, it was decided to print Saint Teresa's works, the Augustinian monk and poet, Fray Luis de Leon was selected as the editor, and finally in 1588 the book was published at Salamanca, Spain.
The books Interior Castle and The Way of Perfection, taken collectively are practical blueprints for "seekers" who want to really understand prayer as mystical union with God. Further, Teresa's exposure of how she was blessed with contemplation truly illuminates the Catholic theologies of grace, the sacraments, humility and ultimately love.
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