The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus
by Teresa of Avila
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The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus

Transcriber's Note: Corrections suggested in the Corrigenda, p. [viii] of the original text, have been made. Section number added for L 3.9, since both the translator's preface and the index refer to it. Footnotes gathered at the ends of chapters. Typographical errors in two Scriptural quotations have been corrected: In L 21 note 10, I have changed "Quae praeparavit Deus iis qui" to "Quae praeparavit Deus his qui;" and in L 29 note 12, I have changed "As the longing of the heart" to "As the longing of the hart."

The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus

Re-imprimatur. + Franciscus Archiepiscopus Westmonast.

Die 27 Sept., 1904.

The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus, of the Order of Our Lady of Carmel. Written by Herself.

Translated from the Spanish by David Lewis.

Third Edition Enlarged.

With additional Notes and an Introduction by Rev. Fr. Benedict Zimmerman, O.C.D.

London: Thomas Baker. New York: Benziger Bros. MCMIV.



Introduction to the Third Edition, by Rev. B. Zimmerman

St. Teresa's Arguments of the Chapters

Preface by David Lewis

Annals of the Saint's Life


I. Childhood and early Impressions—The Blessing of pious Parents—Desire of Martyrdom—Death of the Saint's Mother

II. Early Impressions—Dangerous Books and Companions—The Saint is placed in a Monastery

III. The Blessing of being with good people—How certain Illusions were removed

IV. Our Lord helps her to become a Nun—Her many Infirmities

V. Illness and Patience of the Saint—The Story of a Priest whom she rescued from a Life of Sin

VI. The great Debt she owed to our Lord for His Mercy to her—She takes St. Joseph for her Patron

VII. Lukewarmness—The Loss of Grace—Inconvenience of Laxity in Religious Houses

VIII. The Saint ceases not to pray—Prayer the way to recover what is lost—All exhorted to pray—The great Advantage of Prayer, even to those who may have ceased from it

IX. The means whereby our Lord quickened her Soul, gave her Light in her Darkness, and made her strong in Goodness

X. The Graces she received in Prayer—What we can do ourselves—The great Importance of understanding what our Lord is doing for us—She desires her Confessors to keep her Writings secret, because of the special Graces of our Lord to her, which they had commanded her to describe

XI. Why men do not attain quickly to the perfect Love of God—Of Four Degrees of Prayer—Of the First Degree—The Doctrine profitable for Beginners, and for those who have no sensible Sweetness

XII. What we can ourselves do—The Evil of desiring to attain to supernatural States before our Lord calls us

XIII. Of certain Temptations of Satan—Instructions relating thereto

XIV. The Second State of Prayer—Its supernatural Character

XV. Instructions for those who have attained to the Prayer of Quiet—Many advance so far, but few go farther

XVI. The Third State of Prayer—Deep Matters—What the Soul can do that has reached it—Effects of the great Graces of our Lord

XVII. The Third State of Prayer—The Effects thereof—The Hindrance caused by the Imagination and the Memory

XVIII. The Fourth State of Prayer—The great Dignity of the Soul raised to it by our Lord—Attainable on Earth, not by our Merit, but by the Goodness of our Lord

XIX. The Effects of this Fourth State of Prayer—Earnest Exhortations to those who have attained to it not to go back nor to cease from Prayer, even if they fall—The great Calamity of going back

XX. The Difference between Union and Rapture—What Rapture is—The Blessing it is to the Soul—The Effects of it

XXI. Conclusion of the Subject—Pain of the Awakening—Light against Delusions

XXII. The Security of Contemplatives lies in their not ascending to high Things if our Lord does not raise them—The Sacred Humanity must be the Road to the highest Contemplation—A Delusion in which the Saint was once entangled

XXIII. The Saint resumes the History of her Life—Aiming at Perfection—Means whereby it may be gained—Instructions for Confessors

XXIV. Progress under Obedience—Her Inability to resist the Graces of God—God multiplies His Graces

XXV. Divine Locutions—Delusions on that Subject

XXVI. How the Fears of the Saint vanished—How she was assured that her Prayer was the Work of the Holy Spirit

XXVII. The Saint prays to be directed in a different way—Intellectual Visions

XXVIII. Visions of the Sacred Humanity and of the glorified Bodies—Imaginary Visions—Great Fruits thereof when they come from God

XXIX. Of Visions—The Graces our Lord bestowed on the Saint—The Answers our Lord gave her for those who tried her

XXX. St. Peter of Alcantara comforts the Saint—Great Temptations and Interior Trials

XXXI. Of certain outward Temptations and Appearances of Satan—Of the Sufferings thereby occasioned—Counsels for those who go on unto Perfection

XXXII. Our Lord shows St. Teresa the Place which she had by her Sins deserved in Hell—The Torments there—How the Monastery of St. Joseph was founded

XXXIII. The Foundation of the Monastery hindered—Our Lord consoles the Saint

XXXIV. The Saint leaves her Monastery of the Incarnation for a time, at the command of her superior—Consoles an afflicted Widow

XXXV. The Foundation of the House of St. Joseph—Observance of holy Poverty therein—How the Saint left Toledo

XXXVI. The Foundation of the Monastery of St. Joseph—Persecution and Temptations—Great interior Trial of the Saint, and her Deliverance

XXXVII. The Effects of the divine Graces in the Soul—The inestimable Greatness of one Degree of Glory

XXXVIII. Certain heavenly Secrets, Visions, and Revelations—The Effects of them in her Soul

XXXIX. Other Graces bestowed on the Saint—The Promises of our Lord to her—Divine Locutions and Visions

XL. Visions, Revelations, and Locutions

The Relations.


I. Sent to St. Peter of Alcantara in 1560 from the Monastery of the Incarnation, Avila

II. To one of her Confessors, from the House of Dona Luisa de la Cerda, in 1562

III. Of various Graces granted to the Saint from the year 1568 to 1571, inclusive

IV. Of the Graces the Saint received in Salamanca at the end of Lent, 1571

V. Observations on certain Points of Spirituality

VI. The Vow of Obedience to Father Gratian which the Saint made in 1575

VII. Made for Rodrigo Alvarez, S.J., in the year 1575, according to Don Vicente de la Fuente; but in 1576, according to the Bollandists and F. Bouix

VIII. Addressed to F. Rodrigo Alvarez

IX. Of certain spiritual Graces she received in Toledo and Avila in the years 1576 and 1577

X. Of a Revelation to the Saint at Avila, 1579, and of Directions concerning the Government of the Order

XI. Written from Palencia in May, 1581, and addressed to Don Alonzo Velasquez, Bishop of Osma, who had been when Canon of Toledo, one of the Saint's Confessors

Introduction to the Present Edition.

When the publisher entrusted me with the task of editing this volume, one sheet was already printed and a considerable portion of the book was in type. Under his agreement with the owners of the copyright, he was bound to reproduce the text and notes, etc., originally prepared by Mr. David Lewis without any change, so that my duty was confined to reading the proofs and verifying the quotations. This translation of the Life of St. Teresa is so excellent, that it could hardly be improved. While faithfully adhering to her wording, the translator has been successful in rendering the lofty teaching in simple and clear language, an achievement all the more remarkable as in addition to the difficulty arising from the transcendental nature of the subject matter, the involved style, and the total absence of punctuation tend to perplex the reader. Now and then there might be some difference of opinion as to how St. Teresa's phrases should be construed, but it is not too much to say that on the whole Mr. Lewis has been more successful than any other translator, whether English or foreign. Only in one case have I found it necessary to make some slight alteration in the text, and I trust the owners of the copyright will forgive me for doing so. In Chapter XXV., section 4, St. Teresa, speaking of the difference between the Divine and the imaginary locutions, says that a person commending a matter to God with great earnestness, may think that he hears whether his prayer will be granted or not: y es muy posible, "and this is quite possible," but he who has ever heard a Divine locution will see at once that this assurance is something quite different. Mr. Lewis, following the old Spanish editions, translated "And it is most impossible," whereas both the autograph and the context demand the wording I have ventured to substitute.

When Mr. Lewis undertook the translation of St. Teresa's works, he had before him Don Vicente de la Fuente's edition (Madrid, 1861-1862), supposed to be a faithful transcript of the original. In 1873 the Sociedad Foto-Tipografica-Catolica of Madrid published a photographic reproduction of the Saint's autograph in 412 pages in folio, which establishes the true text once for all. Don Vicente prepared a transcript of this, in which he wisely adopted the modern way of spelling but otherwise preserved the original text, or at least pretended to do so, for a minute comparison between autograph and transcript reveals the startling fact that nearly a thousand inaccuracies have been allowed to creep in. Most of these variants are immaterial, but there are some which ought not to have been overlooked. Thus, in Chapter XVIII. section 20, St. Teresa's words are: Un gran letrado de la orden del glorioso santo Domingo, while Don Vicente retains the old reading De la orden del glorioso patriarca santo Domingo. Mr. Lewis possessed a copy of this photographic reproduction, but utilised it only in one instance in his second edition. [1]

The publication of the autograph has settled a point of some importance. The Bollandists (n. 1520), discussing the question whether the headings of the chapters (appended to this Introduction) are by St. Teresa or a later addition, come to the conclusion (against the authors of the Reforma de los Descalcos) that they are clearly an interpolation (clarissime patet) on account of the praise of the doctrine contained in these arguments. Notwithstanding their high authority the Bollandists are in this respect perfectly wrong, the arguments are entirely in St. Teresa's own hand and are exclusively her own work. The Book of Foundations and the Way of Perfection contain similar arguments in the Saint's handwriting. Nor need any surprise be felt at the alleged praise of her doctrine for by saying: this chapter is most noteworthy (Chap. XIV.), or: this is good doctrine (Chap. XXI.), etc., she takes no credit for herself because she never grows tired of repeating that she only delivers the message she has received from our Lord. [2] The Bollandists, not having seen the original, may be excused, but P. Bouix (whom Mr. Lewis follows in this matter) had no right to suppress these arguments. It is to be hoped that future editions of the works of S. Teresa will not again deprive the reader of this remarkable feature of her writings. What she herself thought of her books is best told by Yepes in a letter to Father Luis de Leon, the first editor of her works: "She was pleased when her writings were being praised and her Order and the convents were held in esteem. Speaking one day of the Way of Perfection, she rejoiced to hear it praised, and said to me with great content: Some grave men tell me that it is like Holy Scripture. For being revealed doctrine it seemed to her that praising her book was like praising God." [3]

A notable feature in Mr. Lewis's translation is his division of the chapters into short paragraphs. But it appears that he rearranged the division during the process of printing, with the result that a large number of references were wrong. No labour has been spared in the correction of these, and I trust that the present edition will be the more useful for it. In quoting the Way of Perfection and the Interior Castle (which he calls Inner Fortress!) Mr. Lewis refers to similar paragraphs which, however, are to be found in no English edition. A new translation of these two works is greatly needed, and, in the case of the Way of Perfection, the manuscript of the Escurial should be consulted as well as that of Valladolid. Where the writings of S. John of the Cross are quoted by volume and page, the edition referred to is the one of 1864, another of Mr. Lewis's masterpieces. The chapters in Ribera's Life of St. Teresa refer to the edition in the Acts of the Saint by the Bollandists. These and all other quotations have been carefully verified, with the exception of those taken from the works on Mystical theology by Antonius a Spiritu Sancto and Franciscus a S. Thoma, which I was unable to consult. I should have wished to replace the quotations from antiquated editions of the Letters of our Saint by references to the new French edition by P. Gregoire de S. Joseph (Paris, Poussielgue, 1900), which may be considered as the standard edition.

In note 2 to Chap. XI. Mr. Lewis draws attention to a passage in a sermon by S. Bernard containing an allusion to different ways of watering a garden similar to St. Teresa's well-known comparison. Mr. Lewis's quotation is incorrect, and I am not certain what sermon he may have had in view. Something to the point may be found in sermon 22 on the Canticle (Migne, P. L. Vol. CLXXXIII, p. 879), and in the first sermon on the Nativity of our Lord (ibid., p. 115), and also in a sermon on the Canticle by one of St. Bernard's disciples (Vol. CLXXXIV., p. 195). I am indebted to the Very Rev. Prior Vincent McNabb, O.P., for the verification of a quotation from St. Vincent Ferrer (Chap. XX. section 31).

Since the publication of Mr. Lewis's translation the uncertainty about the date of St. Teresa's profession has been cleared up. Yepes, the Bollandists, P. Bouix, Don Vicente de la Fuente, Mr. Lewis, and numerous other writers assume that she entered the convent of the Incarnation [4] on November 2nd, 1533, and made her profession on November 3rd, 1534. The remaining dates of events previous to her conversion are based upon this, as will he seen from the chronology printed by Mr. Lewis at the end of his Preface and frequently referred to in the footnotes. It rests, however, on inadequate evidence, namely on a single passage in the Life [5] where the Saint says that she was not yet twenty years old when she made her first supernatural experience in prayer. She was twenty in March, 1535, and as this event took place after her profession, the latter was supposed by Yepes and his followers to have taken place in the previous November. Even if we had no further evidence, the fact that St. Teresa is not always reliable in her calculation should have warned us not to rely too much upon a somewhat casual statement. In the first chapter, section 7, she positively asserts that she was rather less than twelve years old at the death of her mother, whereas we know that she was at least thirteen years and eight months old. As to the profession we have overwhelming evidence that it took place on the 3rd of November, 1536, and her entrance in the convent a year and a day earlier. To begin with, we have the positive statement of her most intimate friends, Julian d'Avila, Father Ribera, S.J., and Father Jerome Gratian. Likewise dona Maria Pinel, nun of the Incarnation, says in her deposition: "She (Teresa of Jesus) took the habit on 2 November, 1535." [6] This is corroborated by various passages in the Saint's writings. Thus, in Relation VII., written in 1575, she says, speaking of herself: "This nun took the habit forty years ago." Again in a passage of the Life written about the end of 1564 or the beginning of the following year, [7] she mentions that she has been a nun for over twenty-eight years, which points to her profession in 1536. But there are two documents which place the date of profession beyond dispute, namely the act of renunciation of her right to the paternal inheritance and the deed of dowry drawn up before a public notary. Both bear the date 31 October, 1536. The authors of the Reforma de los Descalcos thought that they must have been drawn up before St. Teresa took the habit, and therefore placed this event in 1536 and the profession in 1537, but neither of these documents is necessarily connected with the clothing, yet both must have been completed before profession. The Constitutions of Blessed John Soreth, drawn up in 1462, which were observed at the convent of the Incarnation, contain the following rule with regard to the reception and training of novices: [8] Consulimus quod recipiendus ante susceptionem habitus expediat se de omnibus quae habet in saeculo nisi ex causa rationabili per priorem generalem vel provincialem fuerit aliter ordinatum. There was, indeed, good reason in the case of St. Teresa to postpone these legal matters. Her father was much opposed to her becoming a nun, but considering his piety it might have been expected that before the end of the year of probation he would grant his consent (which in the event he did the very day she took the habit), and make arrangements for the dowry. One little detail concerning her haste in entering the convent has been preserved by the Reforma and the Bollandists, [9] though neither seem to have understood its meaning. On leaving the convent of the Incarnation for St. Joseph's in 1563, St. Teresa handed the prioress of the former convent a receipt for her bedding, habit and discipline. This almost ludicrous scrupulosity was in conformity with a decision of the general chapter of 1342 which said: Ingrediens ordinem ad sui ipsius instantiam habeat lectisternia pro se ipso, sin autem recipiens solvat lectum illum. As St. Teresa entered the convent without the knowledge of her father she did not bring this insignificant trousseau with her; accordingly the prioress became responsible for it and obtained a receipt when St. Teresa went to the new convent. The dowry granted by Alphonso Sanchez de Cepeda to his daughter consisted of twenty-five measures, partly wheat, partly barley, or, in lieu thereof, two hundred ducats per annum. Few among the numerous nuns of the Incarnation could have brought a better or even an equal dowry.

The date of St. Teresa's profession being thus fixed on the 3rd of November, 1536, some other dates of the chronology must be revised. Her visit to Castellanos de la Canada must have taken place in the early part of 1537. But already before this time the Saint had an experience which should have proved a warning to her, and the neglect of which she never ceased to deplore, namely the vision of our Lord; [10] her own words are that this event took place "at the very beginning of her acquaintance with the person" who exercised so dangerous an influence upon her. Mr. Lewis assigns to it the date 1542, which is impossible seeing that instead of twenty-six it was only twenty-two years before she wrote that passage of her life. Moreover, it would have fallen into the midst of her lukewarmness (according to Mr. Lewis's chronology) instead of the very beginning. P. Bouix rightly assigns it to the year 1537, but as he is two years in advance of our chronology it does not agree with the surrounding circumstances as described by him. Bearing in mind the hint St. Teresa gives [11] as to her disposition immediately after her profession, we need not be surprised if the first roots of her lukewarmness show themselves so soon.

From Castellanos she proceeded to Hortigosa on a visit to her uncle. While there she became acquainted with the book called Tercer Abecedario. Don Vicente remarks that the earliest edition known to him was printed in 1537, which tells strongly against the chronology of the Bollandists, P. Bouix, and others. Again, speaking of her cure at Bezadas she gives a valuable hint by saying that she remained blind to certain dangers for more than seventeen years until the Jesuit fathers finally undeceived her. As these came to Avila in 1555 the seventeen years lead us back to 1538, which precisely coincides with her sojourn at Bezadas. She remained there until Pascua florida of the following year. P. Bouix and others understand by this term Palm Sunday, but Don Vicente shows good reason that Easter Sunday is meant, which in 1539 was April the 6th. She then returned to Avila, more dead than alive, and remained seriously ill for nearly three years, until she was cured through the miraculous intervention of St. Joseph about the beginning of 1542. Now began the period of lukewarmness which was temporally interrupted by the illness and death of her father, in 1544 or 1545, and came to an end about 1555. Don Vicente, followed by Mr. Lewis, draws attention to what he believes to be a "proof of great laxity of the convent," that St. Teresa should have been urged by one of her confessors to communicate as often as once a fortnight. It should be understood that frequent communion such as we now see it practised was wholly unknown in her time. The Constitutions of the Order specified twelve days on which all those that were not priests should communicate, adding: Verumtamen fratres professi prout Deus eis devotionem contulerit diebus dominicis et festis duplicibus (i.e., on feasts of our Lady, the Apostles, etc.), communicare poterunt si qui velint. Thus, communicating about once a month St. Teresa acted as ordinary good Religious were wont to do, and by approaching the sacrament more frequently she placed herself among the more fervent nuns. [12]

St. Teresa wrote quite a number of different accounts of her life. The first, addressed to Father Juan de Padranos, S.J. [13] and dated 1557, is now lost. The second, written for St. Peter of Alcantara, is Relation I. at the end of this volume; a copy of it, together with a continuation (Relation II.) was sent to Father Pedro Ibanez in 1562. It is somewhat difficult to admit that in the very same year she wrote another, more extensive, account to the same priest, which is generally called the "first" Life. At the end of the Life such as we have it now, St. Teresa wrote: "This book was finished in June, 1562," and Father Banez wrote underneath: "This date refers to the first account which the Holy Mother Teresa of Jesus wrote of her life; it was not then divided into chapters. Afterwards she made this copy and inserted in it many things which had taken place subsequent to this date, such as the foundation of the monastery of St. Joseph of Avila." Elsewhere Father Banez says: [14] "Of one of her books, namely, the one in which she recorded her life and the manner of prayer whereby God had led her, I can say that she composed it to the end that her confessors might know her the better and instruct her, and also that it might encourage and animate those who learn from it the great mercy God had shown her, a great sinner as she humbly acknowledged herself to be. This book was already written when I made her acquaintance, her previous confessors having given her permission to that effect. Among these was a licentiate of the Dominican Order, the Reverend Father Pedro Ibanez, reader of Divinity at Avila. She afterwards completed and recast this book." These two passages of Banez have led the biographers of the Saint to think that she wrote her Life twice, first in 1561 and the following year, completing it in the house of Dona Luisa de la Cerda at Toledo, in the month of June; and secondly between 1563 and 1565 at St. Joseph's Convent of Avila. They have been at pains to point out a number of places which could not have been in the "first" Life, but must have been added in the second; [15] and they took it for granted that the letter with which the book as we now have it concludes, was addressed to Father Ibanez in 1562, when the Saint sent him the "first" Life. It bears neither address nor date, but from its contents I am bound to conclude that it was written in 1565, that it refers to the "second" Life, and that whomsoever it was addressed to, it cannot have been to Father Ibanez, who was already dead at the time. [16] Saint Teresa asks the writer to send a copy of the book to Father Juan de Avila. Now we know from her letters that as late as 1568 this request had not been complied with, and that St. Teresa had to write twice to Dona Luisa for this purpose; [17] but if she had already given these instructions in 1562, it is altogether incomprehensible that she did not see to it earlier, especially when the "first" Life was returned to her for the purpose of copying and completing it. The second reason which prevents me from considering this letter as connected with the "first" Life will be examined when I come to speak of the different ends the Saint had in view when writing her Life. It is more difficult to say to whom the letter was really addressed. The Reforma suggests Father Garcia de Toledo, Dominican, who bade the Saint write the history of the foundation of St. Joseph's at Avila [18] and who was her confessor at that convent. It moreover believes that he it is to whom Chapter XXXIV. sections 8-20 refers, and this opinion appears to me plausible. As to the latter point, Yepes thinks the Dominican at Toledo was Father Vicente Barron, the Bollandists offer no opinion, and Mr. Lewis, in his first edition gives first the one and then the other. If, as I think, Father Garcia was meant, the passage in Chapter XVI. section 10, beginning "O, my son," would concern him also, as well as several passages where Vuestra Merced—you, my Father—is addressed. For although the book came finally into the hands of Father Banez, it was first delivered into those of the addressee of the letter.

Whether the previous paper was a mere "Relation," or really a first attempt at a "Life," [19] there can be no dispute about its purpose: St. Teresa speaks of it in the following terms: "I had recourse to my Dominican father (Ibanez); I told him all about my visions, my way of prayer, the great graces our Lord had given me, as clearly as I could, and begged him to consider the matter well, and tell me if there was anything therein at variance with the Holy Writings, and give me his opinion on the whole matter." [20] The account thus rendered had the object of enabling Father Ibanez to give her light upon the state of her soul. But while she was drawing it up, a great change came over her. During St. Teresa's sojourn at Toledo she became from a pupil an experienced master in Mystical knowledge. "When I was there a religious" (probably Father Garcia de Toledo) "with whom I had conversed occasionally some years ago, happened to arrive. When I was at Mass in a monastery of his Order, I felt a longing to know the state of his soul." [21] Three times the Saint rose from her seat, three times she sat down again, but at last she went to see him in a confessional, not to ask for any light for herself, but to give him what light she could, for she wished to induce him to surrender himself more perfectly to God, and this she accomplished by telling him how she had fared since their last meeting. No one who reads this remarkable chapter can help being struck by the change that has come over Teresa: the period of her schooling is at an end, and she is now the great teacher of Mystical theology. Her humility does not allow her to speak with the same degree of openness upon her achievements as she did when making known her failings, yet she cannot conceal the Gift of Wisdom she had received and the use she made of it.

St. Teresa's development, if extraordinary considering the degree of spirituality she reached, was nevertheless gradual and regular. With her wonderful power of analysis, she has given us not only a clear insight into her interior progress, but also a sketch of the development of her understanding of supernatural things. "It is now (i.e., about the end of 1563) some five or six years, I believe, since our Lord raised me to this state of prayer, in its fulness, and that more than once,—and I never understood it, and never could explain it; and so I was resolved, when I should come thus far in my story, to say very little or nothing at all." [22] In the following chapter she adds: "You, my father, will be delighted greatly to find an account of the matter in writing, and to understand it; for it is one grace that our Lord gives grace; and it is another grace to understand what grace and what gift it is; and it is another and further grace to have the power to describe and explain it to others. Though it does not seem that more than the first of these—the giving of grace—is necessary, it is a great advantage and a great grace to understand it." [23] These words contain the clue to much that otherwise would be obscure in the life of our Saint: great graces were bestowed upon her, but at first she neither understood them herself nor was she able to describe them. Hence the inability of her confessors and spiritual advisers to guide her. Her natural gifts, great though they were, did not help her much. "Though you, my father, may think that I have a quick understanding, it is not so; for I have found out in many ways that my understanding can take in only, as they say, what is given it to eat. Sometimes my confessor used to be amazed at my ignorance: and he never explained to me—nor, indeed, did I desire to understand—how God did this, nor how it could be. Nor did I ever ask." [24] At first she was simply bewildered by the favours shown her, afterwards she could not help knowing, despite the fears of over anxious friends, that they did come from God, and that so far from imperilling her soul made a different woman of her, but even then she was not able to explain to others what she experienced in herself. But shortly before the foundation of St. Joseph's convent she received the last of the three graces mentioned above, the Gift of Wisdom, and the scene at Toledo is the first manifestation of it.

This explains the difference of the "Life" such as we know it from the first version or the "Relations" preceding it. Whatever this writing was, it still belonged to the period of her spiritual education, whereas the volume before us is the first-fruit of her spiritual Mastership. The new light that had come to her induced her confessors [25] to demand a detailed work embodying everything she had learned from her heavenly Teacher. [26] The treatise on Mystical theology contained in Chapters X. to XXI., the investigation of Divine locutions, Visions and Revelations in the concluding portion of the work could have had no place in any previous writing. While her experiences before she obtained the Gift of Wisdom influenced but three persons (one of them being her father), a great many profited by her increased knowledge. [27] The earlier writings were but confidential communications to her confessors, and if they became known to larger circles this was due to indiscretion. But her "Life" was written from the beginning with a view to publication. Allusions to this object may be found in various places [28] as well as in the letter appended to the book, [29] but the decisive utterances must be sought for elsewhere, namely in the "Way of Perfection." This work was written immediately after the "Life," while the Saint was as yet at the convent of St. Joseph's. It was re-written later on and is now only known in its final shape, but the first version, the original of which is preserved at the Escurial and has been reproduced photographically, leaves no doubt as to the intentions of St. Teresa in writing her "Life." "I have written a few days ago a certain Relation of my Life. But since it might happen that my confessor may not permit you (the Sisters of St. Joseph's) to read it, I will put here some things concerning prayer which are conformable to what I have said there, as well as some other things which appear to me to be necessary." [30] Again: "As all this is better explained in the book which I say I have written, there is no need for me to speak of it with so much detail. I have said there all I know. Those of you who have been led by God to this degree of contemplation (and I say that some have been led so far), should procure the book because it is important for you, after I am dead." [31] At the end she writes: "Since the Lord has taught you the way and has inspired me as to what I should put in the book which I say has been written, how they should behave who have arrived at this fountain of living water and what the soul feels there, and how God satiates her and makes her lose the thirst for things of this world and causes her to grow in things pertaining to the service of God; that book, therefore, will be of great help for those who have arrived at this state, and will give them much light. Procure it. For Father Domingo Banez, presentado of the Order of St. Dominic who, as I say, is my confessor, and to whom I shall give this, has it: if he judges that you should see this, and gives it to you, he will also give you the other." [32] While the first and second of these quotations may be found, somewhat weakened, in the final version of the "Way of Perfection," the last one is entirely omitted. Nor need this surprise us, for Father Banez had his own ideas about the advisability of the publication of the "Life." In his deposition, already referred to, he says: "It was not convenient that this book should become public during her lifetime, but rather that it should be kept at the Holy Office (the Inquisition) until we knew the end of this person; it was therefore quite against my will that some copies were taken while it was in the hands of the bishop Don Alvaro Mendoza, who, being a powerful prelate and having received it from the said Teresa of Jesus, allowed it to be copied and showed it to his sister, dona Maria de Mendoza; thus certain persons taking an interest in spiritual matters and knowing already some portions of this treatise (evidently the contents of the divulged Relations) made further copies, one of which became the property of the Duchess of Alba, dona Maria Enriquez, and is now, I think, in the hands of her daughter-in-law, dona Maria de Toledo. All this was against my wish, and I was much annoyed with the said Teresa of Jesus, though I knew well it was not her fault but the fault of those to whom she had confided the book, and I told her she ought to burn the original because it would never do that the writings of women should become public property; to which she answered she was quite aware of it and would certainly burn it if I told her to do so; but knowing her great humility and obedience I did not dare to have it destroyed but handed it to the Holy Office for safe-keeping, whence it has been withdrawn since her death and published in print." [33] From this it will he seen that Banez, who had given a most favourable opinion when the "Life" was denounced to the Inquisition (1574), resulting in the approbation by Cardinal de Quiroga to the great joy of St. Teresa, [34] returned it to the Holy Office for safety's sake. It was withdrawn by the Ven. Mother Anne of Jesus when the Order had decided upon the publication of the works of the Saint, but too late to be utilised then. Father Luis de Leon, the editor, had to content himself with the copy already alluded to.

St. Teresa wrote her "Life" slowly. It was begun in spring, 1563, [35] and completed in May or June, 1565. She complains that she can only work at it by stealth on account of her duties at the distaff; [36] but the book is written with so much order and method, the manuscript is so free from mistakes, corrections and erasures, that we may conclude that while spinning she worked it out in her mind, so that the apparent delay proved most advantageous. In this respect the "Life" is superior to the first version of the "Way of Perfection." This latter work was printed during her lifetime, though it appeared only after her death. In 1586 the Definitory of the province of Discalced Carmelites decided upon the publication of the complete works of the Saint, but for obvious reasons deemed not only the members of her own Order but also Dominicans and Jesuits ineligible for the post of editor. Such of the manuscripts as could be found were therefore confided to the Augustinian Father, Luis de Leon, professor at Salamanca, who prepared the edition but did not live to carry it through the press. The fact that he did not know the autograph of the "Life" accounts for the numerous inaccuracies to be found in nearly all editions, but the publication of the original should ensure a great improvement for the future.

St. Teresa's canonisation took place before the stringent laws of Urban VIII. came into force. Consequently, the writings of the Saint were not then enquired into, the Holy See contenting itself with the approbations granted by the Spanish Inquisition, and by the congregation of the Rota in Rome. A certain number of passages selected from various works having been denounced by some Roman theologians as being contrary to the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas and other authorities, Diego Alvarez, a Dominican, and John Rada, a Franciscan, were commissioned to examine the matter and report on it. The twelve censures with the answers of the two theologians and the final judgment of the Rota seem to have remained unknown to the Bollandists. [37] The "heavenly doctrine" of St. Teresa is alluded to not only in the Bull of canonisation but even in the Collect of the Mass of the Saint.

Concerning the English translations of the "Life" noticed by Mr. Lewis it should be mentioned that the one ascribed to Abraham Woodhead is only partly his work. Father Bede of St. Simon Stock (Walter Joseph Travers), a Discalced Carmelite, labouring on the English Mission from 1660 till 1692, was anxious to complete the translation of St. Teresa's works into English. He had not proceeded very far when he learnt that "others were engaged in the same task. On enquiry he found that a new translation was contemplated by two graduates of the University of Cambridge, converts to the Faith, most learned and pious men, who were leading a solitary life, spending their time and talents in the composition of controversial and devotional works for the good of their neighbour and the glory of God." One of these two men was Woodhead, who, however, was an Oxford man, but the name of the other, who must have been a Cambridge man, is not known. They undertook the translation while Father Bede provided the funds and bore the risks of what was then a dangerous work. As there existed already two English translations of the "Life," the first volume to appear (1669) contained the Book of Foundations, to which was prefixed the history of the foundation of St. Joseph's from the "Life." When, therefore, the new translation of the latter appeared, in 1671, this portion of the book was omitted. [38] The translation was made direct from the Spanish but "uniformly with the Italian edition."

Mr. Lewis, whose translation is the fifth, was born on the 12th of November, 1814, and died on January the 23rd, 1895. The first edition was printed in 1870, the second in 1888. It is regrettable that the latter edition, of which the present is a reprint, omitted the marginal notes which would have been so helpful to the reader.

St. Teresa's life and character having always been a favourite study of men and women of various schools of thought, it may be useful to notice here a few recent English and foreign works on the subject:—

The Life of Saint Teresa, by the author of "Devotions before and after Holy Communion" (i.e., Miss Maria Trench), London, 1875.

The Life of Saint Teresa of the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Edited with a preface by the Archbishop of Westminster (Cardinal Manning), London, 1865. (By Miss Elizabeth Lockhart, afterwards first abbess of the Franciscan convent, Notting Hill.) Frequently reprinted.

The Life and Letters of St. Teresa, by Henry James Coleridge, S.J. Quarterly Series. 3 vols (1881, 1887, 1888).

And, from another point of view:

The Life of St. Teresa, by Gabriela Cunninghame-Graham, 2 vols, London, 1894.

Histoire de Sainte Therese d'apres les Bollandistes. 2 vols, Nantes, 1882. Frequently reprinted. The author is Mlle. Adelaide Lecornu (born 5 July, 1852, died at the Carmelite convent at Caen, 14 December, 1901. Her name in religion was Adelaide-Jeronyme-Zoe-Marie du Sacre-Coeur).

An excellent character sketch of the Saint has appeared in the "Les Saints" series (Paris, Lecoffre, 1901):

Sainte Therese, par Henri Joly.

Although the attempt at explaining the extraordinary phenomena in the life of St. Teresa by animal Magnetism and similar obscure theories had already been exploded by the Bollandists, it has lately been revived by Professor Don Arturo Perales Gutierrez of Granada, and Professor Don Fernando Segundo Brieva Salvatierra of Madrid, who considered her a subject of hysterical derangements. The discussion carried on for some time, not only in Spain but also in France, Germany, and other countries, has been ably summed up and disposed of by P. Gregoire de S. Joseph: La pretendue Hysterie de Sainte Therese. Lyons.

The Bibliographie Theresienne, by Henry de Curzon (Paris, 1902) is, unfortunately, too incomplete, not to say slovenly, to be of much use.

Finally, it is necessary to say a word about the spelling of the name Teresa. In Spanish and Italian it should be written without an h as these languages do not admit the use of Th; in English, likewise, where this combination of letters represents a special sound, the name should be spelt with T only. But the present fashion of thus writing it in Latin, German, French, and other languages, which generally maintain the etymological spelling, is intolerable: The name is Greek, and was placed on the calendar in honour of a noble Spanish lady, St. Therasia, who became the wife of a Saint, Paulinus of Nola, and a Saint herself. See Sainte Therese, Lettres au R. P. Bouix, by the Abbe Postel, Paris, 1864. The derivation of the name from the Hebrew Thersa can no longer be defended (Father Jerome-Gratian, in Fuente, Obras, Vol. VI., p. 369 sqq.).

Benedict Zimmerman, Prior O.C.D.

St. Luke's Priory, Wincanton, Somerset. 16th July, 1904.

1. Chap. xxxiv., note 5.

2. Chap. xviii. section 11.

3. Fuente, Obras (1881), vol. vi. p. 133.

4. See the licence granted by Leo X. to the prioress and convent of the Incarnation to build another house for the use of the said convent, and to migrate thither (Vatican Archives, Dataria, Leo X., anno i., vol. viii., fol. 82). Also a licence to sell or exchange certain property belonging to it (ibid., anno iv., vol. vii., f. 274; and a charge to the Bishop of Avila concerning a recourse of the said convent (ibid., anno vii., vol. iv., f. 24).

5. Chap. iv section 9.

6. Lettres de Ste. Therese, edit. P. Gregoire de S. Joseph, vol. iii, p. 419, note 2.

7. Chap. xxxvi. section 10. The date of this part of the Life can be easily ascertained from the two following chapters. In xxxvii. section 18, St. Teresa says that she is not yet fifty years old, consequently the chapter must have been written before the end of March, 1565; and in the next chapter, xxxviii. section 15, she speaks of the death of Father Pedro Ibanez, which appears to have taken place on 2nd February. This, at least, is the date under which his name appears in the Annee Dominicaine, and the Very Rev. Prior Vincent McNabb tells me that there is every reason to think that it is the date of his death.

8. When about A.D. 1452 certain communities of Beguines demanded affiliation to the Carmelite Order, they were given the Constitutions of the friars without any alterations. These Constitutions were revised in 1462, but neither there nor in the Acts of the General Chapters, so far as these are preserved, is there the slightest reference to convents of nuns. The colophon of the printed edition (Venice, 1499) shows that they held good for friars and nuns: Expliciunt sacrae constitutiones novae fratrum et sororum beatae Mariae de Monte Carmelo. They contain the customary laws forbidding the friars under pain of excommunication, to leave the precincts of their convents without due licence, but do not enjoin strict enclosure, which would have been incompatible with their manner of life and their various duties. St. Teresa nowhere insinuates that the Constitutions, such as they were, were not kept at the Incarnation; her remarks in chap. vii. are aimed at the Constitutions themselves, which were never made for nuns, and therefore did not provide for the needs of their convents.

9. Reforma lib. i., cap. 47. Bollandists. no. 366.

10. Chap. vii. section 11.

11. Chap. v. section 2.

12. Constitutions of 1462. Part i., cap. x.

13. Chap. xxiii. section 17.

14. Deposition for the process of canonisation, written in 1591. Fuente, Obras, vol. vi., p. 174.

15. See the notes to chapters vii. section 11; xvi. section 10; xx. section 6; xxiv. section 4; xxvii. section 17. At the end of chapter xxxi. we are told on the authority of Don Vicente that the "first" Life must have ended at this point.

16. Bollandists, no. 1518.

17. Lettres, edit. Gregoire. I., pp. 13 (18 May, 1568); 21 (27 May); 35 (2 November).

18. Reforma, vol. i., lib. v., cap. xxxv., no. 9. Bollandists, no. 1518.

19. If the latter, it must have been very much shorter than the second edition, and can scarcely have contained more than the first nine chapters (perhaps verbatim) and an account of the visions, locutions, etc., contained in chapters xxiii.-xxxi., without comment.

20. Chap. xxxiii. section 7.

21. Chap. xxxiv. section 8.

22. Chap. xvi. section 2.

23. Chap. xvii. section 7.

24. Chap. xxviii. section 10.

25. In the Prologue to the Book of Foundations, Father Garcia de Toledo, her confessor at St. Joseph's Convent, is said to be responsible for the order to rewrite the "Life"; but in the Preface to the "Life" St. Teresa speaks of her "confessors" in the plural. Fathers Ibanez and Banez may be included in the number. See also ch. xxx. section 27.

26. Chap. xviii. section 11.

27. Chap. xiii. section 22. In chap. xvi. section 12, the Saint says: "I wish we five who now love one another in our Lord, had made some such arrangement, etc." Fuente is of opinion that these five were, besides the Saint, Father Julian de Avila, Don Francisco de Salcedo, St. John of the Cross, and Don Lorenzo de Cepeda, St. Teresa's brother: but this is impossible at the date of this part of the "Life." It is more probable that she meant Francisco de Salcedo, Gaspar Daza, Julian de Avila, and Father Ibanez, the latter being still alive in the beginning of 1564, when this chapter was written. It is more difficult to say who the three confessors were whom St. Teresa desired to see the "Life" (ch. xl. section 32). If, as I think, the book was first handed to Father Garcia de Toledo, the others may have been Francisco de Salcedo, Baltasar Alvarez, and Gaspar de Salazar.

28. Chap. x. sections 11 and 12.

29. This is the second reason why the letter could not have been addressed to Father Ibanez in 1562.

30. Edited by Don Francisco Herrero Bayona, 1883 p. 4.

31. Ibid., chap. xli. (see Dalton's translation, chap. xxv.).

32. Ibid., chap. lxxiii. See the difference in Dalton's translation, chap. xlii.

33. Fuente, Obras, vol. vi., p. 275.

34. See the following Preface, p. xxxvii. Lettres, ed. Gregoire, ii., p. 65. P. Bertholde-Ignace, Vie de la Mere Anne de Jesus, i., p. 472.

35. In the Prologue to the Book of Foundations, St. Teresa says that Father Garcia de Toledo ordered her to rewrite the book the same year in which St. Joseph's Convent was founded, i.e. 1562, but seeing that she only spent a few hours there and that the principal difficulties only arose after her return to the Incarnation, it appears more probable that Father Garcia's command was not made until the spring of the following year, when she went to live at St. Joseph's.

36. Chap. x. section 11.

37. See Historia Generalis Fratrum Discalceatorum Ordinis B. Virginis Mariae de Monte Carmelo Congregationis Eliae. Romae, 1668, vol. i., pp. 340-358 ad ann. 1604.

38. See Carmel in England, by Rev. Father B. Zimmerman, p. 240 sqq.

St. Teresa's Arguments of the Chapters.


J.H.S. Chapter I. [1]—In which she tells how God [2] began to dispose this soul from childhood for virtue, and how she was helped by having virtuous parents.

Chapter II.—How she lost these virtues and how important it is to deal from childhood with virtuous persons.

Chapter III.—In which she sets forth how good company was the means of her resuming good intentions, and in what manner God began to give her some light on the deception to which she was subjected.

Chapter IV.—She explains how, with the assistance of God, she compelled herself to take the (Religious) habit, and how His Majesty began to send her many infirmities.

Chapter V.—She continues to speak of the great infirmities she suffered and the patience God gave her to bear them, and how He turned evil into good, as is seen from something that happened at the place where she went for a cure.

Chapter VI.—Of the great debt she owes God for giving her conformity of her will (with His) in her trials, and how she turned towards the glorious St. Joseph as her helper and advocate, and how much she profited thereby.

Chapter VII.—Of the way whereby she lost the graces God had granted her, and the wretched life she began to lead; she also speaks of the danger arising from the want of a strict enclosure in convents of nuns.

Chapter VIII.—Of the great advantage she derived from not entirely abandoning prayer so as not to lose her soul; and what an excellent remedy this is in order to win back what one has lost. She exhorts everybody to practise prayer, and shows what a gain it is, even if one should have given it up for a time, to make use of so great a good.

Chapter IX.—By what means God began to rouse her soul and give light in the midst of darkness, and to strengthen her virtues so that she should not offend Him.

Chapter X.—She begins to explain the graces God gave her in prayer, and how much we can do for ourselves, and of the importance of understanding God's mercies towards us. She requests those to whom this is to be sent to keep the remainder (of this book) secret, since they have commanded her to go into so many details about the graces God has shown her.

Chapter XI.—In which she sets forth how it is that we do not love God perfectly in a short time. She begins to expound by means of a comparison four degrees of prayer, of the first of which she treats here; this is most profitable for beginners and for those who find no taste in prayer.

Chapter XII.—Continuation of the first state. She declares how far, with the grace of God, we can proceed by ourselves, and speaks of the danger of seeking supernatural and extraordinary experiences before God lifts up the soul.

Chapter XIII.—She continues to treat of the first degree, and gives advice with respect to certain temptations sometimes sent by Satan. This is most profitable.

Chapter XIV.—She begins to explain the second degree of prayer in which God already gives the soul special consolations, which she shows here to be supernatural. This is most noteworthy.

Chapter XV.—Continuing the same subject, she gives certain advice how one should behave in the prayer of quiet. She shows that many souls advance so far, but that few go beyond. The matters treated of in this chapter are very necessary and profitable.

Chapter XVI.—On the third degree of prayer; she declares things of an elevated nature; what the soul that has come so far can do, and the effect of such great graces of God. This is calculated to greatly animate the spirit to the praise of God, and contains advice for those who have reached this point.

Chapter XVII.—Continues to declare matters concerning the third degree of prayer and completes the explanation of its effects. She also treats of the impediment caused by the imagination and the memory.

Chapter XVIII.—She treats of the fourth degree of prayer, and begins to explain [3] in what high dignity God holds a soul that has attained this state; this should animate those who are given to prayer, to make an effort to reach so high a state since it can be obtained in this world, though not by merit but only through the goodness of God. [4]

Chapter XIX.—She continues the same subject, and begins to explain the effects on the soul of this degree of prayer. She earnestly exhorts not to turn back nor to give up prayer even if, after having received this favour, one should fall. She shows the damage that would result (from the neglect of this advice). This is most noteworthy and consoling for the weak and for sinners.

Chapter XX.—She speaks of the difference between Union and Trance, and explains what a Trance is; she also says something about the good a soul derives from being, through God's goodness, led so far. She speaks of the effects of Union. [5]

Chapter XXI.—She continues and concludes this last degree of prayer, and says what a soul having reached it feels when obliged to turn back and live in the world, and speaks of the light God gives concerning the deceits (of the world). This is good doctrine.

Chapter XXII.—In which she shows that the safest way for contemplatives is not to lift up the spirit to high things but to wait for God to lift it up. How the Sacred Humanity of Christ is the medium for the most exalted contemplation. She mentions an error under which she laboured for some time. This chapter is most profitable.

Chapter XXIII.—She returns to the history of her life, how she began to practise greater perfection. This is profitable for those who have to direct souls practising prayer that they may know how to deal with beginners, and she speaks of the profit she derived from such knowledge.

Chapter XXIV.—She continues the same subject and tells how her soul improved since she began to practise obedience, and how little she was able to resist God's graces, and how His Majesty continued to give them more and more abundantly.

Chapter XXV.—Of the manner in which Locutions of God are perceived by the soul without being actually heard; and of some deceits that might take place in this matter, and how one is to know which is which. This is most profitable for those who are in this degree of prayer, because it is very well explained, and contains excellent doctrine.

Chapter XXVI.—She continues the same subject; explains and tells things that have happened to her which caused her to lose fear and convinced her that the spirit which spoke to her was a good one.

Chapter XXVII.—Of another way in which God teaches a soul, and, without speaking, makes His Will known in an admirable manner. She goes on to explain a vision, though not an imaginary one, and a great grace with which God favoured her. This chapter is noteworthy.

Chapter XXVIII.—She treats of the great favours God showed her, and how He appeared to her for the first time; she explains what an imaginary vision is, and speaks of the powerful effects it leaves and the signs whether it is from God. This chapter is most profitable and noteworthy.

Chapter XXIX.—She continues and tells of some great mercies God showed her, and what His Majesty said to her in order to assure her (of the truth of these visions), and taught her how to answer contradictors.

Chapter XXX.—She continues the history of her life, and how God sent her a remedy for all her anxieties by calling the holy Friar Fray Pedro de Alcantara of the Order of the glorious St. Francis to the place where she lived. She mentions some great temptations and interior trials through which she sometimes had to pass.

Chapter XXXI.—She speaks of some exterior temptations and apparitions of Satan, and how he ill-treated her. She mentions, moreover, some very good things by way of advice to persons who are walking on the way of perfection.

Chapter XXXII.—She narrates how it pleased God to put her in spirit in that place of Hell she had deserved by her sins. She tells a little [6] of what she saw there compared with what there was besides. She begins to speak of the manner and way of founding the convent of St. Joseph where she now lives.

Chapter XXXIII.—She continues the subject of the foundation of the glorious St. Joseph. How she was commanded to have nothing (further) to do with it, how she abandoned it, also the troubles it brought her and how God consoled her in all this.

Chapter XXXIV.—She shows how at that time it happened that she absented herself from this place and how her Superior commanded her to go away at the request of a very noble lady who was in great affliction. She begins to tell what happened to her there, and the great grace God bestowed upon her in determining through her instrumentality a person of distinction to serve Him truly; and how that person found favour and help in her (Teresa). This is noteworthy.

Chapter XXXV.—Continuation of the foundation of this house of our glorious Father St. Joseph; in what manner our Lord ordained that holy poverty should be observed there; the reason why she left the lady with whom she had been staying, and some other things that happened.

Chapter XXXVI.—She continues the same subject, and shows how the foundation of this convent of the glorious St. Joseph was finally accomplished, and the great contradictions and persecutions she had to endure after the Religious had taken the habit, and the great trials and temptations through which she passed, and how God led her forth victorious to His own glory and praise.

Chapter XXXVII.—Of the effects which remained when God granted her some favour; together with other very good doctrine. She shows how one ought to strive after and prize every increase in heavenly glory, and that for no trouble whatever one should neglect a good that is to be perpetual.

Chapter XXXVIII.—She treats of some great mercies God showed her, even making known to her heavenly secrets by means of visions and revelations His Majesty vouchsafed to grant her; she speaks of the effects they caused and the great improvement resulting in her soul.

Chapter XXXIX.—She continues the same subject, mentioning great graces granted her by God; how He promised to hear her requests on behalf of persons for whom she should pray. Some remarkable instances in which His Majesty thus favoured her.

Chapter XL.—Continuation of the same subject of great mercies God has shown her. From some of these very good doctrine may be gathered, and this, as she declares, was, besides compliance with obedience, her principal motive (in writing this book), namely to enumerate such of these mercies as would be instructive to souls. This chapter brings the history of her Life, written by herself, to an end. May it be for the glory of God. Amen.

1. St. Teresa wrote no title, either of the whole book or of the Preface, but only the monogram J.H.S., which is repeated at the beginning of the first chapter and at the end of the last, previous to the letter with which the volume concludes.

2. "El Senor" is everywhere translated by "God" in distinction to "Nuestro Senor," "Our Lord."

3. "In an excellent manner," scored through by the Saint herself.

4. "To be read with great care, as it is explained in a most delicate way, and contains many noteworthy points," also scored through by St. Teresa herself.

5. "This is most admirable," scored through by the Saint.

6. "Una cifra," a mere nothing.

Preface by David Lewis.

St. Teresa was born in Avila on Wednesday, March 28, 1515. Her father was Don Alfonso Sanchez de Cepeda, and her mother Dona Beatriz Davila y Ahumada. The name she received in her baptism was common to both families, for her great-grandmother on the father's side was Teresa Sanchez, and her grandmother on her mother's side was Teresa de las Cuevas. While she remained in the world, and even after she had become a nun in the monastery of the Incarnation, which was under the mitigated rule, she was known as Dona Teresa Sanchez Cepeda Davila y Ahumada; for in those days children took the name either of the father or of the mother, as it pleased them. The two families were noble, but that of Ahumada was no longer in possession of its former wealth and power. [1] Dona Beatriz was the second wife of Don Alfonso, and was related in the fourth degree to the first wife, as appears from the dispensation granted to make the marriage valid on the 16th of October, 1509. Of this marriage Teresa was the third child.

Dona Beatriz died young, and the eldest daughter, Maria de Cepeda, took charge of her younger sisters—they were two—and was as a second mother to them till her marriage, which took place in 1531, when the Saint was in her sixteenth year. But as she was too young to be left in charge of her father's house, and as her education was not finished, she was sent to the Augustinian monastery, the nuns of which received young girls, and brought them up in the fear of God. [2] The Saint's own account is that she was too giddy and careless to be trusted at home, and that it was necessary to put her under the care of those who would watch over her and correct her ways. She remained a year and a half with the Augustinian nuns, and all the while God was calling her to Himself. She was not willing to listen to His voice; she would ask the nuns to pray for her that she might have light to see her way; "but for all this," she writes, "I wished not to be a nun." [3] By degrees her will yielded, and she had some inclination to become a religious at the end of the eighteen months of her stay, but that was all. She became ill; her father removed her, and the struggle within herself continued,—on the one hand, the voice of God calling her; on the other, herself labouring to escape from her vocation.

At last, after a struggle which lasted three months, she made up her mind, and against her inclination, to give up the world. She asked her father's leave, and was refused. She besieged him through her friends, but to no purpose. "The utmost I could get from him," she says, "was that I might do as I pleased after his death." [4] How long this contest with her father lasted is not known, but it is probable that it lasted many months, for the Saint was always most careful of the feelings of others, and would certainly have endured much rather than displease a father whom she loved so much, and who also loved her more than his other children. [5]

But she had to forsake her father, and so she left her father's house by stealth, taking with her one of her brothers, whom she had persuaded to give himself to God in religion. The brother and sister set out early in the morning, the former for the monastery of the Dominicans, and the latter for the Carmelite monastery of the Incarnation, in Avila. The nuns received her into the house, but sent word to her father of his child's escape. Don Alfonso, however, yielded at once, and consented to the sacrifice which he was compelled to make.

In the monastery of the Incarnation the Saint was led on, without her own knowledge, to states of prayer so high, that she became alarmed about herself. In the purity and simplicity of her soul, she feared that the supernatural visitations of God might after all be nothing else but delusions of Satan. [6] She was so humble, that she could not believe graces so great could be given to a sinner like herself. The first person she consulted in her trouble seems to have been a layman, related to her family, Don Francisco de Salcedo. He was a married man, given to prayer, and a diligent frequenter of the theological lectures in the monastery of the Dominicans. Through him she obtained the help of a holy priest, Gaspar Daza, to whom she made known the state of her soul. The priest, hindered by his other labours, declined to be her director, and the Saint admits that she could have made no progress under his guidance. [7] She now placed herself in the hands of Don Francis, who encouraged her in every way, and, for the purpose of helping her onwards in the way of perfection, told her of the difficulties he himself had met with, and how by the grace of God he had overcome them.

But when the Saint told him of the great graces which God bestowed upon her, Don Francis became alarmed; he could not reconcile them with the life the Saint was living, according to her own account. He never thought of doubting the Saint's account, and did not suspect her of exaggerating her imperfections in the depths of her humility: "he thought the evil spirit might have something to do" with her, [8] and advised her to consider carefully her way of prayer.

Don Francis now applied again to Gaspar Daza, and the two friends consulted together; but, after much prayer on their part and on that of the Saint, they came to the conclusion that she "was deluded by an evil spirit," and recommended her to have recourse to the fathers of the Society of Jesus, lately settled in Avila.

The Saint, now in great fear, but still hoping and trusting that God would not suffer her to be deceived, made preparations for a general confession; and committed to writing the whole story of her life, and made known the state of her soul to F. Juan de Padranos, one of the fathers of the Society. F. Juan understood it all, and comforted her by telling her that her way of prayer was sound and the work of God. Under his direction she made great progress, and for the further satisfaction of her confessor, and of Don Francis, who seems to have still retained some of his doubts, she told everything to St. Francis de Borja, who on one point changed the method of direction observed by F. Juan. That father recommended her to resist the supernatural visitations of the spirit as much as she could, but she was not able, and the resistance pained her; [9] St. Francis told her she had done enough, and that it was not right to prolong that resistance. [10]

The account of her life which she wrote before she applied to the Jesuits for direction has not been preserved; but it is possible that it was made more for her own security than for the purpose of being shown to her confessor.

The next account is Relation I., made for St. Peter of Alcantara, and was probably seen by many; for that Saint had to defend her, and maintain that the state of her soul was the work of God, against those who thought that she was deluded by Satan. Her own confessor was occasionally alarmed, and had to consult others, and thus, by degrees, her state became known to many; and there were some who, were so persuaded of her delusions, that they wished her to be exorcised as one possessed of an evil spirit, [11] and at a later time her friends were afraid that she might be denounced to the Inquisitors. [12]

During the troubles that arose when it became known that the Saint was about to found the monastery of St. Joseph, and therein establish the original rule of her Order in its primitive simplicity and austerity, she went for counsel to the Father Fra Pedro Ibanez, [13] the Dominican, a most holy and learned priest. That father not only encouraged her, and commended her work, but also ordered her to give him in writing the story of her spiritual life. The Saint readily obeyed, and began it in the monastery of the Incarnation, and finished it in the house of Dona Luisa de la Cerda, in Toledo, in the month of June, 1562. On the 24th of August, the feast of St. Bartholomew, in the same year, the Reform of the Carmelites began in the new monastery of St. Joseph in Avila.

What the Saint wrote for Fra Ibanez has not been found. It is, no doubt, substantially preserved in her Life, as we have it now, and is supposed to have reached no further than the end of ch. xxxi. What follows was added by direction of another Dominican father, confessor of the Saint in the new monastery of St. Joseph, Fra Garcia of Toledo, who, in 1562, bade her "write the history of that foundation, and other matters."

But as the Saint carried a heavy burden laid on her by God, a constant fear of delusion, she had recourse about the same time to the Inquisitor Soto, who advised her to write a history of her life, send it to Juan of Avila, the "Apostle of Andalucia," and abide by his counsel. As the direction of Fra Garcia of Toledo and the advice of the Inquisitor must have been given, according to her account, about the same time, the Life, as we have it now, must have occupied her nearly six years in the writing of it, which may well be owing to her unceasing care in firmly establishing the new monastery of St. Joseph. The book at last was sent to Blessed Juan of Avila by her friend Dona Luisa de la Cerda, and that great master of the spiritual life wrote the following censure of it:

"The grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you always.

"1. When I undertook to read the book sent me, it was not so much because I thought myself able to judge of it, as because I thought I might, by the grace of our Lord, learn something from the teachings it contains: and praised be Christ; for, though I have not been able to read it with the leisure it requires, I have been comforted by it, and might have been edified by it, if the fault had not been mine. And although, indeed, I may have been comforted by it, without saying more, yet the respect due to the subject and to the person who has sent it will not allow me, I think, to let it go back without giving my opinion on it, at least in general.

"2. The book is not fit to be in the hands of everybody, for it is necessary to correct the language in some places, and explain it in others; and there are some things in it useful for your spiritual life and not so for others who might adopt them, for the special ways by which God leads some souls are not meant for others. These points, or the greater number of them, I have marked for the purpose of arranging them when I shall be able to do so, and I shall not fail to send them to you; for if you were aware of my infirmities and necessary occupations, I believe they would make you pity me rather than blame me for the omission.

"3. The doctrine of prayer is for the most part sound, and you may rely on it, and observe it; and the raptures I find to possess the tests of those which are true. What you say of God's way of teaching the soul, without respect to the imagination and without interior locutions, is safe, and I find nothing to object to it. St. Augustine speaks well of it.

"4. Interior locutions in these days have been a delusion of many, and exterior locutions are the least safe. It is easy enough to see when they proceed from ourselves, but to distinguish between those of a good and those of an evil spirit is more difficult. There are many rules given for finding out whether they come from our Lord or not, and one of them is, that they should be sent us in a time of need, or for some good end, as for the comforting a man under temptation or in doubt, or as a warning of coming danger. As a good man will not speak unadvisedly, neither will God; so, considering this, and that the locutions are agreeable to the holy writings and the teaching of the Church, my opinion is that the locutions mentioned in the book came from God.

"5. Imaginary or bodily visions are those which are most doubtful, and should in no wise be desired, and if they come undesired still they should be shunned as much as possible, yet not by treating them with contempt, unless it be certain that they come from an evil spirit; indeed, I was filled with horror, and greatly distressed, when I read of the gestures of contempt that were made. [14] People ought to entreat our Lord not to lead them by the way of visions, but to reserve for them in Heaven the blessed vision of Himself and the saints, and to guide them here along the beaten path as He guides His faithful servants, and they must take other good measures for avoiding these visions.

"6. But if the visions continue after all this is done, and if the soul derives good from them, and if they do not lead to vanity, but deeper humility, and if the locutions be at one with the teaching the Church, and if they continue for any time, and that with inward satisfaction—better felt than described—there is no reason for avoiding them. But no one ought to rely on his own judgment herein; he should make everything known to him who can give him light. That is the universal remedy to be had recourse to in such matters, together with hope in God, Who will not let a soul that wishes to be safe lie under a delusion, if it be humble enough to yield obedience to the opinion of others.

"7. Nor should any one cause alarm by condemning them forthwith, because he sees that the person to whom they are granted is not perfect, for it is nothing new that our Lord in His goodness makes wicked people just, yea, even grievous sinners; by giving them to taste most deeply of His sweetness. I have seen it so myself. Who will set bounds to the goodness of our Lord?—especially when these graces are given, not for merit, nor because one is stronger; on the contrary, they are given to one because he is weaker; and as they do not make one more holy, they are not always given to the most holy.

"8. They are unreasonable who disbelieve these things merely because they are most high things, and because it seems to them incredible that infinite Majesty humbles Himself to these loving relations with one of His creatures. It is written, God is love, and if He is love, then infinite love and infinite goodness, and we must not be surprised if such a love and such a goodness breaks out into such excesses of love as disturb those who know nothing of it. And though many know of it by faith, still, as to that special experience of the loving, and more than loving, converse of God with whom He will, if not had, how deep it reaches can never be known; and so I have seen many persons scandalized at hearing of what God in His love does for His creatures. As they are themselves very far away from it, they cannot think that God will do for others what He is not doing for them. As this is an effect of love, and that a love which causes wonder, reason requires we should look upon it as a sign of its being from God, seeing that He is wonderful in His works, and most especially in those of his compassion; but they take occasion from this to be distrustful, which should have been a ground of confidence, when other circumstances combine as evidences of these visitations being good.

"9. It seems from the book, I think, that you have resisted, and even longer than was right. I think, too, that these locutions have done your soul good, and in particular that they have made you see your own wretchedness and your faults more clearly, and amend them. They have lasted long, and always with spiritual profit. They move you to love God, and to despise yourself, and to do penance. I see no reasons for condemning them, I incline rather to regard them as good, provided you are careful not to rely altogether on them, especially if they are unusual, or bid you do something out of the way, or are not very plain. In all these and the like cases you must withhold your belief in them, and at once seek for direction.

"10. Also it should be considered that, even if they do come from God, Satan may mix with them suggestions of his own; you should therefore be always suspicious of them. Also, when they are known to be from God, men must not rest much on them, seeing that holiness does not lie in them, but in a humble love of God and our neighbour; everything else, however good, must be feared, and our efforts directed to the gaining of humility, goodness, and the love of our Lord. It is seemly, also, not to worship what is seen in these visions, but only Jesus Christ, either as in Heaven or in the Sacrament, or, if it be a vision of the Saints, then to lift up the heart to the Holy One in Heaven, and not to that which is presented to the imagination: let it suffice that the imagination may be made use of for the purpose of raising me up to that which it makes me see.

"11. I say, too, that the things mentioned in this book befall other persons even in this our day, and that there is great certainty that they come from God, Whose arm is not shortened that He cannot do now what He did in times past, and that in weak vessels, for His own glory.

"12. Go on your road, but always suspecting robbers, and asking for the right way; give thanks to our Lord, Who has given you His love, the knowledge of yourself, and a love of penance and the cross, making no account of these other things. However, do not despise them either, for there are signs that most of them come from our Lord, and those that do not come from Him will not hurt you if you ask for direction.

"13. I cannot believe that I have written this in my own strength, for I have none, but it is the effect of your prayers. I beg of you, for the love of Jesus Christ our Lord, to burden yourself with a prayer for me; He knows that I am asking this in great need, and I think that is enough to make you grant my request. I ask your permission to stop now, for I am bound to write another letter. May Jesus be glorified in all and by all! Amen.

"Your servant, for Christ's sake. "Juan de Avila

"Montilla, 12th Sept., 1568."

Her confessors, having seen the book, "commanded her to make copies of it," [15] one of which has been traced into the possession of the Duke and Duchess of Alva.

The Princess of Eboli, in 1569, obtained a copy from the Saint herself, after much importunity; but it was more out of vanity or curiosity, it is to be feared, than from any real desire to learn the story of the Saint's spiritual life, that the Princess desired the boon. She and her husband promised to keep it from the knowledge of others, but the promise given was not kept. The Saint heard within a few days later that the book was in the hands of the servants of the Princess, who was angry with the Saint because she had refused to admit, at the request of the Princess, an Augustinian nun into the Order of Carmel in the new foundation of Pastrana. The contents of the book were bruited abroad, and the visions and revelations of the Saint were said to be of a like nature with those of Magdalene of the Cross, a deluded and deluding nun. The gossip in the house of the Princess was carried to Madrid, and the result was that the Inquisition began to make a search for the book. [16] It is not quite clear, however, that it was seized at this time.

The Princess became a widow in July, 1573, and insisted on becoming a Carmelite nun in the house she and her husband, Ruy Gomez, had founded in Pastrana. When the news of her resolve reached the monastery, the mother-prioress, Isabel of St. Dominic, exclaimed, "The Princess a nun! I look on the house as ruined." The Princess came, and insisted on her right as foundress; she had compelled a friar to give her the habit before her husband was buried, and when she came to Pastrana she began her religious life by the most complete disobedience and disregard of common propriety. Don Vicente's description of her is almost literally correct, though intended only for a general summary of her most childish conduct:

"On the death of the Prince of Eboli, the Princess would become a nun in her monastery of Pastrana. The first day she had a fit of violent fervour; on the next she relaxed the rule; on the third she broke it, and conversed with secular people within the cloisters. She was also so humble that she required the nuns to speak to her on their knees, and insisted upon their receiving into the house as religious whomsoever she pleased. Hereupon complaints were made to St. Teresa, who remonstrated with the Princess, and showed her how much she was in the wrong, whereupon she replied that the monastery was hers; but the Saint proved to her that the nuns were not, and had them removed to Segovia." [17]

The nuns were withdrawn from Pastrana in April, 1574, and then the anger of the Princess prevailed; she sent the Life of the Saint, which she had still in her possession, to the Inquisition, and denounced it as a book containing visions, revelations, and dangerous doctrines, which the Inquisitors should look into and examine: The book was forthwith given to theologians for examination, and two Dominican friars, of whom Banes was one, were delegated censors of it by the Inquisition. [18]

Fra Banes did not know the Saint when he undertook her defence in Avila against the authorities of the city, eager to destroy the monastery of St. Joseph; [19] but from that time forth he was one of her most faithful friends, strict and even severe, as became a wise director who had a great Saint for his penitent. He testifies in the process of her beatification that he was firm and sharp with her; while she herself was the more desirous of his counsel, the more he humbled her, and the less he appeared to esteem her. [20] When he found that copies of her life were in the hands of secular people,—he had probably also heard of the misconduct of the Princess of Eboli,—he showed his displeasure to the Saint, and told her he would burn the book, it being unseemly that the writings of women should be made public. The Saint left it in his hands, but Fra Banes, struck with her humility, had not the courage to burn it; he sent it to the Holy Office in Madrid. [21] Thus the book was in a sense denounced twice,—once by an enemy, the second time by a friend, to save it. Both the Saint and her confessor, Fra Banes, state that the copy given up by the latter was sent to the Inquisition in Madrid, and Fra Banes says so twice in his deposition. The Inquisitor Soto returned the copy to Fra Banes, desiring him to read it, and give his opinion thereon. Fra Banes did so, and wrote his "censure" of the book on the blank leaves at the end. That censure still remains, and is one of the most important, because given during the lifetime of the Saint, and while many persons were crying out against her. Banes wished it had been published when the Saint's Life was given to the world by Fra Luis de Leon; but notwithstanding its value, and its being preserved in the book which is in the handwriting of the Saint, no one before Don Vicente made it known. It was easy enough to praise the writings of St. Teresa, and to admit her sanctity, after her death. Fra Banes had no external help in the applause of the many, and he had to judge the book as a theologian, and the Saint as one of his ordinary penitents. When he wrote, he wrote like a man whose whole life was spent, as he tells us himself, "in lecturing and disputing." [22]

That censure is as follows:

"1. This book, wherein Teresa of Jesus, Carmelite nun, and foundress of the Barefooted Carmelites, gives a plain account of the state of her soul, in order to be taught and directed by her confessors, has been examined by me, and with much attention, and I have not found anywhere in it anything which, in my opinion, is erroneous in doctrine. On the contrary, there are many things in it highly edifying and instructive for those who give themselves to prayer. The great experience of this religious, her discretion also and her humility, which made her always seek for light and learning in her confessors, enabled her to speak with an accuracy on the subject of prayer that the most learned men, through their want of experience, have not always attained to. One thing only there is about the book that may reasonably cause any hesitation till it shall be very carefully examined; it contains many visions and revelations, matters always to be afraid of, especially in women, who are very ready to believe of them that they come from God, and to look on them as proofs of sanctity, though sanctity does not lie in them. On the contrary, they should be regarded as dangerous trials for those who are aiming at perfection, because Satan is wont to transform himself into an angel of light, [23] and to deceive souls which are curious and of scant humility, as we have seen in our day: nevertheless, we must not therefore lay down a general rule that all revelations and visions come from the devil. If it were so, St. Paul could not have said that Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, if the angel of light did not sometimes enlighten us.

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