Today is one of the happiest Feast Days in Carmelite convents all over the world. Our Holy Mother “Foundress” Saint Teresa of Avila’s Feast Day is on the Roman Calendar on October 15th. Interestingly enough Pope John Paul II anniversary of his papacy is the same day. Why interesting? Most do not know that John Paul wanted to become a Carmelite and was turned down twice because the Bishop of Krakow wanted him to be a Diocesan priest.
John Paul throughout his Papacy showed much affection towards the Carmelites. In fact, the day I saw him in Baltimore with the Carmelite Sisters I was with attending his parade, we were treated to a surprise. We were in habit and were holding signs in Italian saying: “The Carmelites love JP II !” He looked at us & responded in Italian as the Popemobile came to a dead stop. The priest he was with rolled down the window and he shouted out the window, “And John Paul loves the Carmelites too!” in Italian of course!!
St. Teresa of Avila Feast Day
St. Teresa (1515-1582) was born in Avila and died in Alba, Spain. When only a child of seven, she ran away from home in the hope of being martyred by the Moors; in this way, she said she could come to see God. At the age of eighteen she joined the Carmelite Order and chose Christ as her heavenly Spouse. With the help of St. John of the Cross she reformed most of the Carmelite convents and founded new ones. She reached the highest degree of prayer and through prayer obtained such knowledge of divine things that in 1970 Pope Paul VI named her the first woman Doctor of the Church.
Also well known as St. Teresa of Jesus and honored by the Church as the “seraphic virgin,” virgo seraphica, and reformer of the Carmelite Order, ranks first among women for wisdom and learning. She is called doctrix mystica, doctor of mystical theology; in a report to Pope Paul V the Roman Rota declared: “Teresa has been given to the Church by God as a teacher of the spiritual life. The mysteries of the inner mystical life which the holy Fathers propounded unsystematically and without orderly sequence, she has presented with unparalleled clarity.” Her writings are still the classic works on mysticism, and from her all later teachers have drawn, e.g., Francis de Sales, Alphonsus Liguori. Characteristic of her mysticism is the subjective-individualistic approach; there is little integration with the liturgy and social piety, and thus she reflects the spirit of the sixteenth and following centuries.
Teresa was born at Avila, Spain, in the year 1515. At the age of seven she set out for Africa to die for Christ, but was brought back by her uncle. When she lost her mother at twelve, she implored Mary for her maternal protection. In 1533 she entered the Carmelite Order; for eighteen years she suffered physical pain and spiritual dryness. Under divine inspiration and with the approval of Pope Pius IV, she began the work of reforming the Carmelite Order. In spite of heavy opposition and constant difficulties, she founded thirty-two reformed convents.
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