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St. Teresa of Jesus

Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada was born in Avila, Spain, on March 28, 1515 and entered the Carmel of the Incarnation there in 1536. She lived there for about 20 years until she felt that God was asking something more of her.

After many tribulations and heart-searching Teresa, left the Incarnation on Aug. 24, 1562 to found St. Joseph's, a new monastery in which she planned and hoped that the original Rule of Carmel would be kept faithfully. There was a great deal of opposition to the new Carmel and it was sometime before she was able to live there in peace. Many condemned her as a woman deceived by her experiences in prayer.

Eventually the hostility died down and Teresa was asked to found more of these houses of prayer in other cities of Spain. Over a period of twenty years she founded 15 more houses for the nuns and, in association with St John of the Cross, at least two for the friars.

Teresa introduced a fresh orientation into Carmelite life combining silence and solitude with community living and giving the life of prayer a specific apostolic role in the Church and the world. Prayer was to be the great outreach to others, the one and only work of her nuns. Her energy, resolution and sense of humour were unfailing, animated as they were by her immense desire to serve the Lord as lovingly as she could.

She died at Alba de Tormes on Oct. 4, 1582. She was sixty seven years old. When the bells of Avila tolled for her the local citizens said: "The Saint has gone to heaven." Her feast day is kept on Oct. 15.