Who is St. Teresa of Ávila?

St. Teresa of Ávila, who lived from 1515-1582, was a Spanish theologian, writer, and mystic. She entered the Carmelite order as a teenager and, as she deepened her vocation and commitment through a dedicated practice of contemplative prayer, was dismayed by the laxity and worldliness that surrounded her even in religious life. In response she shepherded a significant reform of the Carmelite order which led to the founding of the Discalced Carmelites. She was especially known for her writings, including The Way of Perfection, The Interior Castle and her autobiography. These striking examples of mystical literature trace her own experiences of faith and illustrate how the discipline of contemplative prayer can lead one to an ecstatic, intimate union with God. Because of her insights into the contemplative life and her tireless work in establishing new monasteries under the strict rule of the Discalced Carmelites, Teresa is venerated as one of the spiritual giants of the Church. She was canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622 and recognized as a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI in 1970 (joining only two other women in the history of the Church who have received that honor.) We celebrate her feast day on October 15.

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.