15 October - Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda Dávila y Ahumada, whose real name is Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda Dávila y Ahumada, is born in Ávila on 28th March 1515. The pious ideal and edifying example of the lives of saints and martyrs were passed on to Teresa from her childhood by her parents. Therese showed a passionate nature and a fertile imagination from her early childhood.
In 1527, at the age of twelve, Therese lost her mother. The young Therese asked the Virgin Mary to be her mother. As a teenager with a passion for chivalry novels, she forgot her religious devotion and childhood games. For three months, and with the complicity of the servants, she succumbs to the hobbies of pleasant companies. She also developed a taste for finery with the desire to please. Her father decided to send Teresa to the convent of Santa María de Gracia in Ávila in 1531. Therese found it difficult to bear her lack of freedom. She did not want to become a nun, and her worshippers sent her notes, but as she put it, "there was no room for all that, so it was soon over". Therese remained there until the autumn of 1532, without deciding to embrace religious life.
She became seriously ill and had to return to her father's house. Struggling with herself, she managed to tell her father that she wished to enter the orders, knowing that she would not go back on her decision. With the help of one of her brothers, Therese ran away from home on 2 November 1533 to the Convent of the Incarnation in Ávila. This monastery was uncloistered, allowing the nuns to go out and receive visitors. After entering the convent, her health deteriorated. To cure her, her father took her to Castellanos de la Cañada with her sister in 1535. When she returned to Ávila on Palm Sunday in 1537, she suffered a four-day relapse at her father's home in July. She remained paralysed for more than two years. By the middle of 1539, Teresa recovered her health, according to her, thanks to St. Joseph. With health comes back the worldly tastes, which are easy to satisfy: Therese lives again in the convent and receives frequent visits.
One day, by chance, she saw an image of Jesus Christ suffering in an oratory which provoked deep emotion in her. She then decided to resume her prayer. The reading of the Confessions of Saint Augustine encouraged her in her conversion. Feeling spiritual graces in her prayer, Therese confided to her confessor to find out whether they came from God or the devil. After listening to her, he tells her that it is the devil who creates illusions for her. After several years of this same discourse, the clergyman finally advises Therese to consult priests of the Society of Jesus. It was at this time, in 1555, that the Jesuits Juan de Padranos and Baltasar Alvarez founded a college in Ávila. Padranos became Teresa's confessor. The following year (1556), Teresa began to receive intense spiritual favours. In 1559, she took Baltasar Alvarez as her confessor, who ruled her conscience for six years and received, she said, great heavenly favours, among which was the vision of the resurrected Jesus.
In 1560, she made a vow to always aspire to the greatest perfection; St. Peter of Alcántara approved this state of mind, and St. Louis Bertrand encouraged her to implement her project to reform the Order of Carmel, which she conceived around that time: she wanted to found a monastery in Ávila that would strictly observe the rule of the Order, which included the obligation of poverty, solitude and silence. At the height of her mystical life, Teresa recounts having lived the experience of transverbration.
Dissatisfied with the "loosening" of the rules, which had been relaxed, Thérèse decided to reform the Order in order to return to the austerity, poverty and isolation that she believed were part of the authentic Carmelite spirit. After two years of struggle, the bull of Pius IV for the construction of the Convent of St. Joseph was presented to her. The convent was inaugurated on 24th August 1562.
Therese was to found a total of seventeen convents in all the provinces of Spain, which meant that she was regularly on the road in all weathers. Although she was almost always ill, in 1582 she went to Medina del Campo, Valladolid, Palencia and Burgos, where she founded her last convent. On her arrival in Alba de Tormes on 20th September 1582, her condition worsened. Sister Anne of Saint Bartholomew holds her in her arms during her last hours. She died during the night of the 4th to Friday the 15th of October 1582. On that night, Spain and Italy switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar by decision of Pope Gregory XIII, hence the expression "the night of the 4th to the 15th".
Nine months after his death, a first exhumation takes place: while the clothes have rotted, the body is discovered incorrupted. Teresa of Avila was beatified in 1614 by Pope Paul V. In 1622, the Carmelite father Dominic of Jesus Mary carried Teresa's canonization file. Her process was successful and Pope Gregory XV canonised her on 12 March 1622. On 27 September 1970, Pope Paul VI proclaimed Therese a Doctor of the Church. She was the first woman to obtain this title.