October 15 is the feast day of St. Teresa of Ávila.
Teresa joined the Carmelite community of nuns when she was 20, against her father’s wishes. She was not especially religious in her practices, but when her father died, she re-examined her life and began a regular practice of contemplative prayer that ended up transforming her. After developing this exercise for nearly 20 years, she helped other nuns and visitors of the convent learn it as key to different stages of spiritual growth.
She was known as a mystic because in her contemplation, she saw visions of Jesus, heard the voice of God, and was even lifted into the air.
At first, she found this kind of prayer difficult, but, after practicing, she made this discovery: “For contemplative prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us. The important thing is not to think much but to love much and so do that which best stirs you to love. Love is not great delight but desire to please God in everything.”
Once she opened her own convent for a contemplative order, Teresa began writing about the experiences of her life and continued to open more convents. Her book, The Interior Castle, remains one of the most influential spiritual works of all time.
Teresa died on October 4, 1582. She was declared a Doctor of the Church for her writing and teaching on contemplative prayer in 1970. Teresa is the patron saint of sick people, people in need of grace, and people in religious orders.
Get to know this saint through our Spotify playlist inspired by her life — featuring artists The Liturgists and Citizen Way, and themes of love and intimacy.