October 2011 – St. Teresa of Avila

St. Teresa of Avila was born into a wealthy Spanish family in 1515, and by the age of seven she and her brother Rodrigo ran away to fight the Moors and become martyrs for Christ. And while that idea didn’t exactly work out as planned—their uncle brought them back home right away—St. Teresa of Avila did have tremendous impact on the Church through her writings and teachings on prayer and as the founder of the Discalced Carmelite order.

When Teresa entered a Carmelite monastery at the age of 20, she noticed that many of the upper class women living there were more interested in earthly things than devoting their lives to Christ. Although Teresa also enjoyed socializing and entertaining visitors, after 18 years she felt that God was calling her to reform the way that the Carmelites were living and founded a stricter order of Carmelites known as the Discalced Carmelites.

Forty years after her death in 1582 Teresa was canonized in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV. In 1970 St. Teresa of Avila was declared a Doctor of the Church for her body of work, one of only three women to be honored in this way. She was canonized in 1622 and her feast day is October 15. Among other things, St. Teresa of Avila is the patron saint of bodily ills; headaches; lacemakers; loss of parents; people in need of grace; people in religious orders; people ridiculed for their piety; and Spain.