Teresa of Avila, Teresa of Avila poetry, Christian, Christian poetry, Catholic poetry,  poetry,  poetry Teresa of Avila
Spain (1515 - 1582) Timeline
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Poems by Teresa of Avila
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Teresa de Jesus, more popularly known as Teresa of Avila, lived in a time of turmoil and religious reform. She was a nun in Catholic Spain during the immediate aftermath of the Protestant Reformation, when Spain saw itself as the most secure bastion of traditional Catholic faith and practice.

She was a strong and inspired leader, in a time and place when women were relegated to more passive roles. And she was a deep mystic, who was said to sometimes levitate off the ground, with her face illuminated.

Teresa entered the Carmelite order of nuns against the wishes of her father. She formed and headed the "discalced" movement within the Carmelite order, a movement that advocated simplicity, humility, and the spiritual life over the increasingly worldly and sometimes corrupt practices that dominated many other communities of monks and nuns. Through the Discalced Carmelite movement, she founded several monasteries. These activities led her into a world of politics, legal battles, letter campaigns, and long periods of exhausting travel.

Like Francis of Assisi, Teresa also suffered from a series of debilitating illnesses and injuries, often made even worse by the treatments of the time. Later in life, for example, she fell down a flight of stairs and broke her arm. It was poorly set and limited her movement. Someone had to re-break her arm in order to reset it, but an even worse job was done, leaving her essentially crippled and needing aid for such simple things as dressing herself.

Obedience was one of the virtues Teresa particularly extolled. Politically, this was significant at a time when the Catholic world was being challenged by the Protestant reformation, and when many mystical movements within the Catholic church narrowly escaped the label of heresy. Yet obedience, for her and for monastics throughout the centuries, has the spiritual value of freeing the individual from self-will and the trap of ego. In other words, when practiced with intelligent caution, obedience can be understood as a technique that opens the heart and the awareness.

Despite her physical sufferings and the challenges of her foundational work within the Catholic church, she remained supremely dedicated to the mystical life. She shared a close spiritual connection with John of the Cross, her younger contemporary, and was in many ways a mentor to that great poet and mystic.

Teresa of Avila wrote poetry, many letters, histories of her work in establishing monastic foundations, but it is her book on the path of prayer, The Way of Perfection, and her spiritual autobiography, The Interior Castle, that are most widely read and considered her masterpieces.

Poems by Teresa of Avila

Recommended Books: Teresa of Avila

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty For Lovers of God Everywhere: Poems of the Christian Mystics All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time
Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West The Essential Mystics: Selections from the World's Great Wisdom Traditions The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila: Volume Three Women of Wisdom: A Journey of Enlightenment by Women of Vision Through the Ages The Mystic in Love: A Treasury of Mystical Poetry
Teresa of Avila: The Progress of a Soul Fire Within: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel, on Prayer John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila: A Study in Mystical Psychology The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself The Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila Including the Relations: The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus
Collected Works of St Teresa Gold in the Crucible: Teresa of Avila & the Western Mystical Tradition The Interior Castle Prayers of Teresa of Avila Saint Teresa of Avila
Teresa of Avila: Ecstasy and Common Sense Meditations with Teresa of Avila: A Journey into the Sacred

Related Links

Christian Classics Etherial Library: St. Teresa of Avila

The Way of Perfection and other works by Teresa of Avila in PDF format. Some links to articles about her, as well.

St. Teresa of Avila

A good, relatively spiritual biography.

St. Teresa of Avila - Catholic Online

Another general biography online.

Teresa of Avila - Wikipedia

A good introduction to the live and works of Teresa of Avila.

Saint Teresa of Avila

Somewhat longer biography of St. Teresa of Avila.

Illuminating Lives - Teresa of Avila

Another biography online.

Poetseers.org - Poems of Teresa of Avila

A selection of poems by Teresa of Avila
Teresa of Avila