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Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada was born in Avila, Spain, on 28th March 1515 and entered the Carmel of the Incarnation there in 1536. She lived there for about 20 years until she felt that God was asking something more of her. After many tribulations and heart-searching Teresa, left the Incarnation on 24th August 1562 to found St. Joseph's, a new monastery in which she planned and hoped that the original Rule of Carmel would be kept faithfully. There was a great deal of opposition to the new Carmel and it was sometime before she was able to live there in peace. Many condemned her as a woman deceived by her experiences in prayer.

Eventually the hostility died down and Teresa was asked to found more of these houses of prayer in other cities of Spain. Over a period of twenty years she founded 15 more houses for the nuns and, in association with St John of the Cross, at least two for the friars. Teresa introduced a fresh orientation into Carmelite life combining silence and solitude with community living and giving the life of prayer a specific apostolic role in the Church and the world. Prayer was to be the great outreach to others, the one and only work of her nuns. Her energy, resolution and sense of humour were unfailing, animated as they were by her immense desire to serve the Lord as lovingly as she could. She died at Alba de Tormes on 4th October 1582. She was sixty seven years old. When the bells of Avila tolled for her the local citizens said: “The Saint has gone to heaven." Her feast day is kept on 15th October.

Deepen your spiritual journey with St Teresa of Avila

Do you find yourself a little overwhelmed by St Teresa's writings and don't know where to start? The Carmelite friar Fr Tadgh Tierney of the Infant Jesus Parish in Morley, Australia, has written a marvellously enriching booklet in which he distils the spiritual wisdom in each of St Teresa's works. Click here for this wonderful free booklet. 

And below, enjoy an interview with St Teresa of Avila… yes, really! 

Principal Events in the Life of Saint Teresa

1515 — Teresa de Ahumada born at Ávila, in Spain.

1536 — Enters Carmelite Convent of the Incarnation (under the Mitigated Rule), Ávila, as a novice. Regards the next 20 years as a period of semi-conversion.

1556-7 — Final 'conversion'. First contact with the Society of Jesus.

1562 — Founded the first convent of the reform, St Joseph's in Avila, under the Primitive Rule of St Albert. Lives there until 1567. Drew up her own Constitutions.

1565 — Greater part of the Life written in its final version. The Way of Perfection begun.

1567 — Authorisation by the Carmelite General for the foundation of further convents of the Reform. Primitive Rule and Constitutions approved.

1568 — Teresa assisted in the foundation of the first Discalced Carmelite Friary in Duruelo with St John of the Cross and Fr Antonio of Jesus.

1562-82 — Founded Discalced Carmelite convents throughout Spain.

1573 — Began to write the Foundations. (Completed 1582)

1577 — The Interior Castle written. (Revised 1580).

1582 — Dies in October at Alba de Tormes.