St. Teresa of Ávila

St Teresa of Ávila was canonised in 1622 and made a Doctor of the Church in 1970.  She is the Patron Saint of Headache Sufferers and her symbol is a heart, a fiery arrow and a book and quill as depicted in the stained glass window in the Sanctuary of Saint Teresa’s Church

This brief video, courtesy of www.catholic.org, gives an overview of the life of the Patron Saint of our Parish.

The Story of St Teresa of Ávila

Saint Teresa was born on 28th March 1515 in the Spanish City of Ávila.  Her parents were pious Catholics and people of position within their community.  Teresa’s father was quite strict, and it was to her mother that she became very close.  She was just 14 when her mother died.  This caused her great distress, but she turned to Our Lady for comfort and implored her to become her mother.

 

As Teresa grew up she enjoyed the company of many friends.  At 16 her father sent her to a convent school to be educated.  As a result of her experiences there she decided to become a Carmelite nun.  The convent was not very strict and quite overcrowded, and Teresa found it difficult to pray and engage in quiet reflection.

 

Soon after joining the Carmelite Odder, Teresa contracted sever malaria and it was feared she might not recover.  But in the midst of her intense physical pain, she began to experience divine visions and an inner sense of peace.

 

For years her divine visions were disputed.  In 1557 the most amazing vision occurred in which an angel pierced her heart with a fiery arrow.  Although this caused her extreme physical pain it left her with an intense love of God.  After this experience she longed to die to be united with God, but she also had a desired to endure suffering for Him on earth.

 

At the age of 43, Teresa founded a new Order, which unlike the free and easy lifestyle of the Carmelite Order at that time, was committed to the values of poverty, simplicity, strict discipline, love and common sense.  The Order was known as the Discalced Carmelites.  She travelled around Spain setting up many new convents while enduring difficult living conditions and opposition to her Order’s way of life.

 

Throughout these latter years her health continued to deteriorate and on 15th October 1582 aged 67 she died in Alba de Tormes in Western Spain where her body is still preserved to this day.

Prayers of St Teresa of Avila

During her life, Teresa wrote a number of books and volumes of poetry.  One very comforting, sensible faithful poem entitled “God Alone Is Enough” speaks to us some 400 years later as follows:

Let nothing upset you

Let nothing startle you

All things pass

God does not change

Patience wins all it seeks

Whoever has God lacks nothing

God alone is enough

St Teresa also wrote the beautiful "Christ Has No Body":

Christ has no body but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on the world,

Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,

Yours are the eyes, you are his body,

Christ has no body now but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world,

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

© The Parish of St Teresa of Ávila, Glen Road, Belfast 2018-2019
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