The Life Of Saint Teresa by Francis Alice Forbes



Source: YouTube Channel EnOn English Online; Join EnOn




DOWNLOAD

PDF | EPUB

Text Scripts

The Life Of Saint Teresa by Francis Alice Forbes

CHAPTER 1

GIRLHOOD

” He who loves Thee, O my God, travels safely by

the open and royal road, far from the precipice; he has

scarcely stumbled at all when Thou stretchest forth

Thy hand to save him.” ST. TERESA.

” IT was the little girl who made me do it,”

pleaded Rodrigo de Cepeda, and although he

did not know it, the excuse was as old as the

world.

The ” little girl ” in question was Rodrigo s

seven-year-old sister Teresa, who had been

seized with a burning desire for martyrdom.

She wanted to see God, she passionately

assured her brother, and as it was necessary

to die first, martyrdom was obviously the

only means to her end. Rodrigo himself

had not seen the matter quite in the same

light, but as Teresa was his own particular

friend and playmate, and they had always

done everything together, he had considered

himself bound to enter into her views.

 

The two had set forth hand in hand at an

 

 

 

12 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

early hour in the morning to seek the desired

martyrdom in the country of the Moors,

but fate had been against them. Scarcely

had the children left the town of Avila when

they fell into the hands of an uncle, who was

returning from the country. Untouched by

their tears and prayers, he promptly took

them home, to the relief of the anxious mother,

who was searching everywhere for the missing

pair. Rodrigo s excuse has already been

given. Teresa with earnest eyes repeated

her assertion: ” I wanted to go to God, and

one cannot do that unless one dies first/

 

Dona Beatriz de Ahumada was a wise and

saintly woman. She explained gently to her

little daughter that, for most people the road

to God lies through a life spent faithfully in

His service. Such a life, especially if one

tried one s best to please God in everything

one did, and was careful to avoid offending

Him, might be quite as meritorious as the

shorter way of martyrdom, which was, more

over, only for the few.

 

It was hard to give up all one s dreams.

Teresa consulted the Lives of the Saints,

and decided that the most desirable thing,

after a martyr s death, was a hermit s life.

Assisted by the faithful Rodrigo, she set to

 

 

 

GIRLHOOD 13

 

work to build a hermitage in the garden,

but, as cement had not entered into their

plans, the stones fell down as fast as they

built them up. Teresa was at last obliged

to admit sorrowfully that there seemed no

more prospect of a hermit s life than of a

martyr s death, and it was in this moment

of discouragement that her mother s words

came back to her. To do one s best to

please God and not to offend Him seemed

possible for anybody; she determined, there

fore, to try this simple plan, and with her

usual energy set to work at once. She had

not very much pocket-money, but what she

had she gave to the poor ; she tried to say her

prayers as devoutly as possible, and resolved

to do a kind action or say a kind word to

everyone she met. It sounds a simple pro

gramme, but it took the little girl all her time

and cost her many acts of self-denial how

many, those who practise it will soon discover.

But she brought sunshine with her wherever

she went, and she began to be supremely

happy, for there is no joy like that of giving

joy to others.

 

Dona Beatriz de Ahumada, Teresa s sweet

young mother, did her utmost to bring up

her large family in the fear and the love of

 

 

 

14 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

God. Gentle, pure, and devout, she was

herself their best example. Of the three

sisters and nine brothers who made up the

merry family party in the big house at Avila,

not one in after life lost the strong faith and

fervour that had been so firmly rooted in

their childish hearts. Don Alonso de Cepeda,

her husband, was a man whom all respected.

Truthful, charitable, and chivalrous, he was

loved as well as obeyed by all his children.

St. Teresa herself tells us that she never

knew her father or mother to respect any

thing but goodness, and that all the children

in mind and heart took after their parents.

” All, that is,” she adds in her humility

” but myself.”

 

The happy family life was soon to be

broken up. When Teresa was between twelve

and thirteen years old, Dona Beatriz died.

In the anguish of loneliness that followed

the loss of the mother to whom she had con

fided all her joys and sorrows, the child flung

herself on her knees before the Blessed Virgin,

begging her to be her mother now that she

had no longer one on earth.

 

Of all the family, Teresa was perhaps the

one who missed Dona Beatriz the most sorely,

and who needed her guiding hand the most!

 

 

 

GIRLHOOD 15

 

Maria, her elder sister, was already grown up,

Juana, the younger, scarcely more than a

baby ; Teresa, beautiful, brilliant and lovable,

was just growing from childhood into girl

hood. Her brothers adored her, and amongst

the troop of young cousins who frequented

the house she ruled as a little queen. There

was no danger in this as long as Teresa

carried out her childish resolution of pleasing

God and never offending Him ; but time wore

on, and she who had inspired that resolution

was no longer at hand to encourage and advise.

 

There was one amongst Teresa s cousins

a good deal older than herself, whose conver

sation, she tells us, did her much harm.

She was a shallow and frivolous girl, who

thought of nothing but pleasure and amuse

ment. By the time that Teresa was fourteen,

she seemed to have forgotten all her old de

sires of being a Saint. Whatever time could

be spared from the reading of romances was

spent in setting off her girlish beauty to the

best advantage and enjoying the admiration

that she received from all within the little

home circle.

 

But the Blessed Virgin did not forget the

child who had thrown herself at her feet on

the clay of her mother s death. Though

 

 

 

16 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

Teresa was her father s darling, he was not

so blinded by affection for his young daughter

as not to notice the change in her behaviour.

He was the first to see that her prayers were

more hurried, her visits to the church fewer;

that she thought more of herself and less of

others. He noticed with distress the un

worthy friendship that was doing all the

mischief. He noticed, too, that in spite of

all her amusements, Teresa was less joyous

than of old, when she had set her childish

steps to ” go to God.” He took counsel

with his eldest daughter Maria, who had

also remarked the change in her sister and was

grieving over it in silence. She herself was

soon to be married, and it was this that

helped them to come to a decision, for when

Maria was established in a house of her own,

Teresa could not very well remain at home

alone with her brothers. It was decided to

send her to the Augustinian Convent to com

plete her education, and no sooner was the

wedding over than the plan was carried out.

After the first week or two of homesickness

Teresa was heartily glad. She was already

tired of the life she had been leading, and

the old desires were tugging at her heart

strings. Maria Bricefio, the nun who had

 

 

 

GIRLHOOD 17

 

chief charge of the children, was both wise

and holy, and it was not long before she had

won Teresa s heart.

 

” How well she used to speak of God/

wrote the Saint in later years, ” and with what

delight I used to listen !” It must be beauti

ful to be so good, she thought, and to belong

wholly to God; and yet she would shiver at

the thought of becoming a nun, and hope

that God would never ask such a thing of

her. Her life at the convent was a happy

one, for Teresa had the gift of making friends,

and all the nuns loved her. It gave her joy

to see how good they were, she says, and to

live amongst them.

 

At the end of a year and a half, however,

Teresa fell ill, and returned to her father s

house. As soon as she was well enough to

travel they went down to the country to the

home of her married sister. When, under

Maria s loving care, she had grown strong

again, and Don Alonso proposed to return

to Avila, Maria begged to keep Teresa with

her, but her father would not hear of parting

with his treasure, from whom he had been

separated, he thought, quite long enough.

On the way home they were to stay for a few

days at Hortigosa with Don Pedro Sanchez,

 

 

 

i8 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

Teresa s uncle, a holy old man who lived the

life of a recluse and a saint. Don Alonso s

stay could only be short, as he was obliged

to return home on business; but Don Pedro

was so delighted with Teresa that he begged

his brother to leave her with him until he

could come back and fetch her home himself

a week or two later.

 

Hortigosa seemed a little dull to Teresa

after the happy life she had led with her

sister, until Don Pedro, the greater part of

whose time was passed in prayer and study,

proposed one day that his niece should read

aloud to him in her spare moments. Teresa,

always ready to give pleasure to others, set

herself bravely to a task which she did not

expect to enjoy. To her surprise, however,

the Epistles of St. Jerome and the writings

of St. Augustine and St. Gregory, which were

what her uncle chiefly preferred, turned out

to be less dry than she had expected. Her

quick intelligence and love of all that was

noble and beautiful soon made her almost

as eager for the hour of reading as Don Pedro

himself, and many were the happy moments

spent in the old Spanish garden at Hortigosa.

As the time went on, Don Pedro and his young

niece found that they had much in common.

 

 

 

GIRLHOOD 19

 

They talked now over the daily reading,

while the old desire to seek and to find God

arose more strongly than ever in Teresa s

heart, with a deeper understanding of the

means to be taken. Already she had dis

covered that earthly pleasures were unsatis

fying. She had learnt that those who give

the most to God are the happiest, and yet her

nature shrank, as human nature will, from

sacrifice and suffering. How was it all to

end ? That was the question uppermost

in Teresa s heart when her father came to

take her home to Avila.

 

 

 

CHAPTER II

 

THE CALL OF GOD

 

” Let him begin by not being afraid of the Cross, and

he will see how our Lord will help him to carry it.”

  1. TERESA.

 

TERESA was courageous by nature, and the

long talks with her uncle in the garden at

Hortigosa had reawakened all the desires

of her childhood. A long life of experience

had taught the old man what the child had

learnt by intuition, that ” to get to God “

was the one thing in the world worth striving

for.

 

What was the surest way to Paradise ?

was the question Teresa asked herself. In

spite of the fact that her nature shrank from

the thought of the religious life, with all that

it entailed of self-sacrifice, she earnestly

prayed that God would show her what He

desired of her, and give her the strength to

do it. How would it be for her in the future

if she remained in the world ? She had been

weak once already in the presence of danger.

 

20

 

 

 

THE CALL OF GOD 21

 

That the religious life was the highest life

she was certain; she soon became convinced

that for her at least it was the safest. As

for its hardships, its self-denial, if other

people had borne them, why not she ? Could

she not suffer a little for that Lord who had

suffered so much for her ? And after all,

was not He Himself the Strength of those

who chose the rough ways for His sake ?

 

So it was, in quiet communing with her

own soul, weighing the things of earth against

the things of Heaven, that Teresa chose the

latter, with all that the sacrifice entailed.

It remained to break the news to her father.

That he would suffer Teresa knew, but, once

assured that her resolve was taken, she had

no doubt but that he would give her gen

erously to God. In this, however, she was

mistaken; Don Alonso absolutely refused his

consent. Entreaties were of no avail, argu

ments could not move him. In vain Teresa

appealed to her sister Maria, to her uncle,

Don Pedro ; in vain her brothers, touched by

her evident distress, pleaded her cause with

their father. Teresa was his favourite child,

said Don Alonso ; he could not and would not

part with her; he wished to hear no more of

the matter.

 

 

 

22 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

But if Don Alonso was resolute, Teresa

was resolute too, for God had spoken, and

she saw clearly where her duty lay. Although

her heart was breaking at the thought of

parting from those she loved so dearly, and

the home life that was so sweet, she deter

mined to take things into her own hands.

 

Close to the town of Avila, in the midst of

its quiet gardens, lay the Carmelite Convent

of the Incarnation. Thither a few years

before, Juana Suarez, a beloved friend of

Teresa s, had gone to give her young life to

God in the cloister. From her Teresa had

learnt something of the peace and happiness

of the religious life, and the prayers of Juana

and of her sisters in religion had been enlisted

to win Don Alonso s consent. One of Teresa s

brothers not the faithful Rodrigo, who was

already making a military career for himself

in the New World, but Antonio showed her

much sympathy, for the desire of his heart

also was to belong to God. Brother and

sister at last resolved to leave their father s

house together and to enter, Teresa at the

Incarnation and Antonio at the Dominican

monastery near by. Early in the morning

before the household was astir, as in the old

days Teresa had crept out with Rodrigo to

 

 

 

THE CALL OF GOD 23

 

seek martyrdom in the country of the Moors,

the two set forth. Teresa herself tells us

that the agony she felt at leaving the beloved

home of her childhood was so great that she

did not think the pains of death could be

greater, but not for that would she pause.

Once within the convent walls a deep peace

fell on her soul. On that very day, as was

the custom, her beautiful hair was cut off and

she was clothed with the novice s habit and

veil. Kneeling before the Tabernacle, she

thanked God who had given her the strength

to do what she knew was His Will, and offered

herself to Him for ever. A few days later

her happiness was complete, for Don Alonso,

who had been thinking things over in his

heart, came himself to the Convent of the

Incarnation to give his daughter the consent

that he had so long withheld. The bond

between the two was now deeper and stronger

than ever, ennobled as it was by sacrifice.

Humbly Don Alonso asked Teresa to teach

him, now that she herself had chosen the

higher life, how to serve God better. The

parlour of the Incarnation became for him

and for Teresa s brothers the sunniest spot in

Avila. There each one brought his troubles

and difficulties; careers were decided on and

 

 

 

24 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

plans discussed for the future; the bright

young novice had help and advice for all.

Even Antonio would come from time to time

from his monastery to talk about the spiritual

life with the sister who had helped him so

much to understand its meaning during their

last days at home together. As for the

little Juana, Don Alonso brought her him

self to the convent, that her education might

be carried on under Teresa s care.

 

If the struggle was still sometimes keen in

the novice s heart, no one was allowed to

suspect it. She performed her humble duties

with such a radiant face that everyone who

saw her was cheered by the sight. She

prayed with so much fervour, and atoned

for her mistakes with so much humility, that

her sisters used sometimes to wonder what

the little novice would become in after life.

Her greatest joy was in helping others; she

was always on the look-out for such little

opportunities; but the old and the infirm

were her special care. When she knelt at

her bedside at night, if her chances of prac

tising charity throughout the day had been

few, she would grieve over it and ask God s

pardon. Sometimes it would happen at that

very moment that an uncertain footfall

 

 

 

THE CALL OF GOD 25

 

would pass her door, and she would know

that in the darkness one of the sisters was

groping her way to her cell. Then Teresa

would spring up and, taking a little lamp in

her hand, hasten to light her on her way,

rejoicing that God had sent her the chance

of doing one more kind action before she

slept.

 

So highly was her thoughtfulness for others

appreciated that she was named to help in

the infirmary, an employment usually given

to the professed alone. She loved the sick,

and they loved her. They knew that they

could ask any service of her, and that she

was never weary of waiting on them, how

ever tiring and unpleasant to her nature the

duties might be. There was one amongst

them who suffered from a terrible disease

and whose poor body was a mass of open

sores. Teresa, who knew that many of the

sisters, in spite of themselves, shrank from

approaching her, made herself her special

nurse. Not content with dressing the gaping

wounds, she would sit beside her patient by

the hour, kiss her hands, and do everything

she could to show that, far from being a mor

tification to serve her, it was her greatest

joy. Filled with admiration at the courage

 

 

 

26 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

and resignation with which the sufferer bore

her terrible malady, Teresa would ask God

that if ever she should be herself attacked

with illness, she might have grace to bear it

with the same love and patience.

 

It seemed as if God had heard her prayer,

for not long after Teresa herself began to

fail in health. At first she took no notice

of the continual sickness and weariness that

assailed her, for she was not given to think

ing about her own ailments. The day of

her profession was drawing nigh, and every

thing else was forgotten in the thought

that she would soon belong wholly to our

Lord.

 

But the happy day came and passed, and

Teresa grew rather worse than better. Her

Superiors took alarm; treatment after treat

ment was tried, but in vain. It was now her

turn to accept the services of others and to

practise patience. The days and nights in

the infirmary were long for one so young

and full of life and energy. The dear com

munity life of work and prayer that she loved

so much had to be given up; she was too

weak even to read.

 

Yet, as she lay helpless on her bed and

contrasted the old happy days with the

 

 

 

THE CALL OF GOD 27

 

present time of suffering, there were no com

plaints, even in her own heart. “Since I

have received good things from my Lord,” she

would say gently, “why not also evil?”

Her sisters were touched at the sight of the

cheerful content that never seemed to waver.

As of old she thought of others more than of

herself, and did her best to give as little

trouble as possible.

 

Don Alonso, in great distress, sent phy

sician after physician to see his daughter,

but all declared that nothing could be done;

the illness was incurable. At last in despair

he resolved to take her to a woman doctor

who had a reputation for working wonderful

cures. The nuns of the Convent of the In

carnation were not cloistered, but were al

lowed to go and visit their intimate friends

and relations; there would be therefore no

difficulty in taking Teresa to Bezedas, where

the woman lived. Juana Suarez, the friend

of Teresa s girlhood, was permitted to go

with her, for the nuns were anxious to do all

they could for one whom they felt certain

they would never see again. In the early

winter the three set out together for Horti-

gosa, the first stage on their journey. The

treatment was not to begin until the spring,

 

 

 

28 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

but Don Alonso had planned that Teresa

should spend the winter months with her

sister Maria. Since the air of Castellanos

had done her so much good before, who could

tell what it might not do again ? It was,

at all events, worth trying.

 

 

 

CHAPTER III

 

THE GREAT MISTAKE

 

” They who would follow Christ, if they do not wish

to be lost, must walk in the way He walked Himself.”

  1. TERESA.

 

IF Don Pedro was delighted to see his niece

clothed in the religious habit, he was no less

distressed at her condition. He surrounded

her with every care during her short stay at

Hortigosa, and the little book on prayer

which he gave her as a parting gift soon be

came Teresa s chief treasure. The long hours

of suffering and weakness, during which she

could neither work nor read, she resolved to

spend in a union with God which should be

closer than ever. It was the only way, as

she had learnt by experience, to be cheerful

and patient when in continual pain. Now,

with the help of her uncle s little book, she

set to work to make prayer the chief occupa

tion of her life. She used to try, she tells

us, to imagine Jesus Christ her Lord present

within her soul, and with a loving heart to

 

29

 

 

 

30 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

follow Him through all the mysteries of His

earthly life, praying the while that she might

serve Him to the utmost of her power. Her

father and sister, knowing that she now be

longed to God and not to them, were careful

not to disturb her; but if they were thought

ful of her, she too was thoughtful of them.

When they were with her, no matter how much

she might be suffering, she was always gay

and merry, and the greatest treat for Maria s

two little children was to be allowed to visit

their aunt.

 

So the months wore on ; but to Don Alonso s

grief Teresa grew no better. The air of

Castellanos, that was to work such marvels,

seemed to have lost its magic. When the

early spring arrived and it was time to set

out for Bezedas, the journey had to be taken

more slowly than ever, for Teresa was so

weak that even the most careful movement

brought on alarming fainting fits. The quack

doctor from whose skill Don Alonso had

hoped so much turned out to be an ignorant

woman, whose violent remedies were utterly

unsuited to anyone in Teresa s condition.

Under her treatment the invalid lost the last

remnants of strength that she possessed.

Racked with pain from head to foot, burning

 

 

 

THE GREAT MISTAKE 31

 

with fever and wasted to a skeleton, she

was brought back to Avila by her heart

broken father in a condition more dead than

alive.

 

It was the Vigil of the Assumption, and

Teresa wished to make her confession. Her

eagerness, however, alarmed Don Alonso,

who feared that it might be prompted by the

thought that she was dying. In order, as he

imagined, to reassure her and to convince her

that there was no real danger, he refused to

send for a priest. That very night Teresa

became unconscious, and lay for four days in

a trance. It was reported in the town that

she was dead ; her grave was dug at the Con

vent of the Incarnation, and two sisters were

sent to watch by her coffin. Don Alonso

alone refused to give up hope, even when

the doctor despaired. Reproaching himself

bitterly for his refusal to grant Teresa s last

desire, he knelt night and day by her bedside,

chafing her cold hands in his, and beseeching

God that she might not die without the

Sacraments, through his fault. His prayer

was granted. On the fourth day Teresa

opened her eyes, smiled at her father and her

brothers, who were gathered round her bed,

and repeated her request. This time the

 

 

 

32 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

poor father did not hesitate; the priest was

sent for at once.

 

Teresa made her confession and received

her Lord with tears of joy, after which the

cruel sufferings, for a moment interrupted,

began again more violently than ever. For

nearly seven months she lay in agony, ex

pressing only one desire to return to her

convent. Don Alonso at last yielded to her

wish, and she was transported with the great

est care to the Incarnation, an object of pity

to all who beheld her. For eight months

more she remained unable to move, at the

end of which time, to her great joy, she was

able to crawl about on her hands and knees.

 

During these weary days of suffering and

helplessness, prayer was her one comfort

and charity her only thought. It was said

that in her presence the absent were always

safe, for she would allow nothing to be said

against them. Her cheerful patience as

tonished her sisters; they could not under

stand how it could endure amidst such

sufferings; a talk with her was like a tonic

for those who were in difficulties or sad at

heart.

 

The doctors had decided that the paralysis

was incurable; but to the young nun of

 

 

 

THE GREAT MISTAKE 33

 

twenty-four, who had already suffered so

much and who lay looking forward to a life

of helpless inaction, there came a great long

ing to work for our Lord as well as to suffer

for Him. Earthly doctors had failed her;

she would appeal to the heavenly. She had

always had a great devotion to St. Joseph,

and it was to him she now addressed herself.

u To other Saints,” she wrote in after life,

” our Lord seems to have given grace to

succour men in some special necessity, but

to this glorious Saint, I know by experience,

to help us in all. He helps in a special way

those souls who commend themselves to him.”

 

The answer to her prayer was a complete

cure.

 

Teresa had asked for health that she might

serve God better, and He had granted her

request. The time had come to put into

practice all that had been planned during the

hours of prayer and suffering.

 

Looking back on the past in after years,

Teresa declared that she had been wrong in

thinking that she could serve God better in

health than in sickness. ” He knows what

is for our good,” she says, ” and His Holy

Will is best.” For in spite of all her desires,

sixteen years were to pass before, leaving the

 

3

 

 

 

34 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

things of earth behind her, she was to reach

those heights of holiness to which God had

called her.

 

The Rule of the Order of Mount Carmel,

drawn up by St. Albert, Patriarch of Jerusa

lem, on a foundation much older still, pre

scribed silence, solitude, prayer and perpetual

abstinence. Towards the end of the four

teenth century, when the Great Schism had

brought with it a relaxation of the religious

Orders, men began to grow weary of aus

terity, and the Carmelites obtained from the

Pope a mitigation or softening of their Rule.

The severe fasts and abstinences were done

away with, enclosure was given up, and the

spirit of prayer that had been the character

istic of the Order rapidly declined.

 

The Convent of the Incarnation had been

founded lately under the mitigated Rule;

the nuns knew no other. They led good

holy lives, but not very different from those

which they might have led as good Catholics

in the world. Visitors were allowed at all

hours; the religious were permitted to leave

the convent to stay with friends and rela

tions; silence was not observed, abstinence

not practised. The friends and families of

the nuns availed themselves largely of their

 

 

 

THE GREAT MISTAKE 35

 

opportunities, and frequented the parlours

and the garden of the convent.

 

Teresa, warm of heart and affectionate by

nature, could not refuse to receive the many

visitors who flocked to see her on her recovery,

conscious though she was that such visits

did not tend to a spirit of prayer and recol

lection. People declared that she did them

good and helped them, which was undoubtedly

true, for she had the gift of leading souls to

God. Other nuns whose virtue she admired

did the same thing, she argued to herself;

it was the custom of the convent. But all

souls are not called to the same perfection,

and the results soon made themselves felt in

Teresa s spiritual life. The prayer and union

with God which she had practised in the

infirmary began to be impossible under these

new conditions, amid the distractions caused

by these incessant visits. Teresa began to

think that it would be better for her, imper

fect as she was, to content herself with the

vocal prayers prescribed by the Rule. Why

should she aspire to a closer union with God

than those amongst whom she lived ?

 

Yet she could not be at rest, for the voice of

God spoke continually in her soul, urging her

to be faithful to her earlier aspirations. Al-

 

 

 

3 6 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

though in the eyes of all a faithful and fervent

religious, Teresa knew in her own heart how

far she fell short of the perfection to which

God was calling her. Neither was she with

out warning, for one day when talking with

a friend, whose acquaintance she had lately

made, she became suddenly aware of a

horrible toad-like creature crawling rapidly

towards her. On another occasion while

she was with the same person, our Lord

appeared to her, His sad and reproachful

face haunting her for long days afterwards.

 

Don Alonso, who had taken to heart

Teresa s instructions of earlier days, was

advancing rapidly in the way of prayer and

holiness. Smitten to the heart by the venera

tion with which he regarded her, Teresa told

him that she no longer prayed as of old, but

she did not disturb him in his belief that it

was her health, which was still far from good,

that prevented her. She little knew that the

death of her beloved father was to be the

beginning of her own new life. Suddenly

struck down with a dangerous illness, he sent

an imploring message to his best-beloved

daughter to come to his bedside. Teresa,

with the permission of her Superiors, hastened

to give him the comfort he desired. Though

 

 

 

THE GREAT MISTAKE 37

 

in great pain, the holy old man thought only

of his soul and of the life to come, and bore

his sufferings with heroic patience.

 

The end was near, and it was at her father s

deathbed that Teresa found courage for the

fight. She had been much struck by the fer

vour and piety of the Dominican friar who had

assisted Don Alonso in his last hours, and

determined to have recourse to him for the

needs of her own soul. He understood at

once to what heights God had called her.

In the first place, he told her, she must hold

fast to mental prayer, and under no condi

tion give it up.

 

Teresa obeyed ; but it was hard to preserve

the recollection necessary for that intimate

union with God in the midst of the distrac

tions to which the intercourse with her

numerous friends exposed her. For years

the conflict raged in her soul. She had not

the strength to give up her friendships,

although she felt that God desired it of her.

The hours of prayer were hours of anguish,

sometimes spent in a frenzied longing for the

clock to strike, sometimes in tears and con

trition at the thought of her own weakness.

Teresa was nearly forty years old when the

grace of God at last triumphed in her soul.

 

 

 

38 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

One day at the end of Lent, on entering the

chapel she caught sight of a statue that had

just been placed there. It was her Lord that

stood before her, covered with wounds and

suffering the bitter pains of His Passion. A

sudden understanding of what He had en

dured for her and her own ingratitude pierced

Teresa s heart like a sword. Falling at His

Feet, she besought Him with bitter tears that

He would give her strength to do His Will.

With the prayer came courage. The work

that was to be so gloriously achieved was

begun.

 

 

 

CHAPTER IV

 

CHRIST OR SATAN ?

 

” O Life of all lives, Thou slayest none that put their

trust in Thee and seek Thy friendship.” ST. TERESA.

 

IT has been said that God will never allow

Himself to be outdone in generosity. For

fourteen years, in spite of dryness, weariness,

and ill-health, Teresa persevered in prayer.

After a long struggle, very hard to her affec

tionate nature, she had given up all the earthly

ties to which she clung. The reward followed

closely on the sacrifice. God began to reveal

Himself to her soul with an ever-increasing

intimacy, while the sense of His continual

presence never left her. It was no longer

hard to recollect herself ; the thought of God

was always in her heart. Her soul, as she

herself tells us, lost itself in God; she no

longer lived, but God lived in her.

 

It was about this time that St. Francis

Borgia, General of the Spanish Province,

resolved to found a Jesuit College in Avila.

Rumours of the holiness of the two sons of

 

39

 

 

 

40 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

St. Ignatius, who had been sent there to

inaugurate the work, came to the ears of

Teresa, who conceived an ardent desire to

seek their counsel and advice. The very

graces which God was showering upon her

made her uneasy. In her humility she asked

herself if she, a sinner, were worthy of such

favours, and feared lest the devil might be

deceiving her.

 

Teresa had some reasons for her misgivings.

Not long since, the visions and prophecies

of a certain Franciscan nun of Cordova had

been the wonder and admiration of the whole

country. After having been regarded as a

Saint for thirty years, this woman, suddenly

touched by grace, had confessed that her

life had been a deception and her visions

imaginary, and was now expiating her sins

in bitter sorrow in a convent of her Order.

If one nun could be so deceived, thought

Teresa, why not another ? Convinced as

she was of her own unworthiness, the extra

ordinary graces which God vouchsafed to her

only served to alarm her. She had heard that

the Jesuits were remarkable for their wisdom

and skill in the guidance of souls, and longed

to have recourse to them to set her doubts

at rest. But humility interfered once more.

 

 

 

CHRIST OR SATAN ? 4*

 

” I did not think myself fit to speak to them/

says the Saint, and the desire had to await

its fulfilment.

 

There lived in Avila a holy old man who was

dear to Teresa, not only on account of the

purity of his life, but because he had been the

intimate friend of her father. His name was

Don Francisco de Salcedo, and to him Teresa

resolved to confide her difficulty. Having

heard her to the end, he proposed that she

should submit the case to Doctor Caspar

Daza, a learned theologian and a friend of

his own. The interview which resulted was

not very satisfactory. Dr. Daza had not

time to undertake the direction of the Saint,

and could only give her some general advice,

while Teresa, who had not as yet that under

standing of spiritual things which was to be

her characteristic in later years, found great

difficulty in making her explanation clear.

An internal intuition, moreover, told her that

this was not the man to help her. Don

Francisco, greatly disappointed at the failure

of his enterprise, did his best to console her,

and suggested that she should write an

account of her spiritual experiences for Dr.

Daza to read. This, to the best of her ability,

she did, and gave the manuscript to her old

 

 

 

42 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

friend. The consequences were disastrous;

Don Francisco returned in the greatest dis

tress. Dr. Daza had read her confession,

he told her, and had come to the conclusion,

in which he himself was obliged to concur,

that her consolations were the work of the

evil one. The best thing for her to do would

be to put herself immediately under the

direction of a Jesuit.

 

Teresa was heart-broken; she did not even

dare to pray, for fear that the consolation

she might receive would be of the devil, and

Father de Padranos was asked to come at

once to the convent to hear her confession.

 

To the Jesuit the situation was perfectly

clear : he saw the grace of God working in a

soul that was pure, humble and straightfor

ward. What was going on in her, he said,

was the work of the Spirit of God; she was.

destined for great graces, and must do all

in her power to correspond with them. She

was to abandon herself with trust and con

fidence wholly into God s Hands.

 

Teresa breathed again; anguish was suc

ceeded by peace and joy, but her doubts

were to be still further set at rest. St. Francis

Borgia, the general of the Jesuits, came soon

afterwards to Avila to visit the College of

 

 

 

CHRIST OR SATAN ? 43

 

St. Giles, and at Father de Padranos request

went to the Incarnation to see her. The

Spirit of God was leading her, was his ver

dict; she might safely follow Its guidance.

Unfortunately for Teresa s future peace of

mind, Father Juan de Padranos was shortly

afterwards called away from Avila.

 

In the meanwhile, the number of nuns in

the Convent of the Incarnation was increas

ing rapidly. Finances did not increase at

the same rate, hence it was difficult to keep up

the house without continually appealing to

the families of the nuns for help. In order

to relieve the convent of the increasing burden,

its inmates were encouraged more and more

to visit their friends and relations, and were

even ordered to accept all invitations.

 

Teresa deplored the want of enclosure with

all her heart. Nothing was more contrary

to her inclinations than such visiting; but it

was the custom of the house, and she was

obliged to obey. While staying with one

of her cousins she had made the acquaintance

of Dona Guiomar de Ulloa, a young widow of

twenty-five, who, having lately lost her hus

band, had resolved to seek consolation in

God alone. Attracted by Teresa s charm

of manner no less than by her holiness, Doila

 

 

 

44 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

Guiomar had confided to her her hopes and

fears for the future, and a strong and super

natural friendship had arisen between them.

When the Saint returned to her convent it

was only to hear that Dona Guiomar had

sought and obtained permission to invite

her to her own house a few months later.

 

Teresa was struck when the two friends

met once more by the progress that Dona

Guiomar had made in the spiritual life. It

was entirely owing, she explained later, to

the direction of Father Baltasar Alvarez, a

young Jesuit whose holiness was known to

the whole town. Teresa, who desired to

share the benefit of such a guidance, asked

Father Baltasar to admit her among the num

ber of his penitents, and found in him a worthy

successor to Father Juan de Padranos. The

visit over, Teresa returned to the Convent

of the Incarnation rejoicing in the thought

that she would be free, for a time at least,

to live in peace with God in her own little cell.

 

But the people of Avila had begun to talk

about the extraordinary graces that were

being showered on this nun whom they had

known from girlhood. Dr. Daza was still

convinced that he had been right in his judg

ment, and Don Francisco de Salcedo had too

 

 

 

CHRIST OR SATAN ? 45

 

much confidence in his friend s learning to

believe that he could have been mistaken.

Both were sincerely interested in Teresa s

welfare, and were extremely anxious about

her condition. In their distress they talked

rather indiscreetly about things which, al

though they did not come under the seal of

confession, had been mentioned in confidence.

Some people went so far even as to warn

Father Baltasar Alvarez to be on his guard

against his penitent.

 

Although in his heart of hearts the Jesuit

was convinced that God alone was working

in Teresa s soul, he was humble enough to

think that he might be mistaken. He had

a great regard for both Caspar Daza and Fran

cisco de Salcedo; it was just possible that they

might be right and he wrong. In any case,

the test was easy: humility and obedience,

which are always present when God is work

ing in a soul, are conspicuously absent

when the work is of the devil. Father

Baltasar let it seem to Teresa that he was not

sure himself if she were not deceived by the

evil one. In any case, he told her, if she were

careful not to offend God, her consolations,

even if they were the work of Satan, would

not be able to hurt her. He ordered her to

 

 

 

46 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

pray less, to resist with all her might her

supernatural attractions, and deprived her

for nearly three weeks of Holy Communion.

” There was no comfort for me either in

Heaven or on earth/ cried the Saint in her

anguish; never had she suffered so cruelly.

But when the cloud was darkest the Divine

voice spoke in her soul. ” Be not afraid/ it

said/ it is I; I will not abandon thee; fear not/

 

” O my Lord, how true a Friend thou art !”

she cried; for all was now easy to bear. As

for Father Baltasar, while more and more

convinced that he had to deal with a Saint,

his direction increased in rigour. The thought

one day suggested itself to Teresa to choose

another director, who would let her pray in

peace; but her Divine Master reproved her

severely. ” Do not flatter thyself thou art

obedient/ He said, ” if thou art not prepared

to suffer.” Presently her Superiors forbade

her to read the spiritual books which helped

her soul the most. This tried her sorely,

but our Lord consoled her. ” Do not grieve,

my daughter,” He said; ” I will give thee a

living book . ” She soon learnt what He meant .

 

One day while praying she saw in a vision

Jesus Christ at her side, after which it seemed

to her that His invisible presence never left

 

 

 

CHRIST OR SATAN ? 47

 

.Jier. When she prayed He constantly ap

peared to her, ravishing her soul to ecstasy.

It was impossible to hide what was passing;

the nuns discussed it with their friends, and

people began to talk of exorcising the Saint

to deliver her from the deceits of the devil.

 

About this time Father Baltasar Alvarez

left Avila, recommending to Teresa during

his absence another confessor, who, on his

first interview with her, decided also that her

visions were the work of Satan. She must

make the sign of the Cross, he told her, when

ever they appeared, and repulse the evil one

with a gesture of contempt and horror.

Teresa herself could not doubt that it was

our Lord whom she saw and with whom she

spoke; how could she bring herself to treat

Him with horror and contempt ? Trem

bling, she asked herself the question, but to

her there was only one answer. Obedience

was His favourite virtue; He had been obe

dient unto death. But when the vision came

again a few days later, even as she made the

sign of the Cross and the prescribed gesture

of contempt, she fell at our Lord s feet,

beseeching Him with tears to pardon her.

Thou hast done well to obey/ was the

answer; ” I will make the truth known.”

 

 

 

CHAPTER V

 

PROBATION

 

” O my soul s Lord, who can find words to describe

what Thou art to those who trust in thee ?” ST. TERESA.

 

TERESA S outward life at this time was like

that of any other nun of the Incarnation.

Prayer and work and the exercises of the

common life succeeded each other as usual.

She was more forgetful of self and thoughtful

for others than anyone else in the house,

but she had always been so. The visions

and ecstasies with which God favoured her

took place during the quiet hours of prayer

in her own oratory, but this state of things

was not to last.

 

One day as the Saint knelt absorbed in

God she beheld at her side the vision of an

angel whose face shone like the sun. In his

hand he held a golden dart, the point of

which was all on fire, and which he plunged

several times into her heart. The love of

God, Teresa tells us, increased so much in

her soul after this miraculous transfixion that

 

48

 

 

 

PROBATION 49

 

she longed to die in order to be no more

separated from her Divine Master. Her

ecstasies and visions increased, and it became

harder than ever to hide the extraordinary

graces with which she was favoured. Some

times in the convent chapel before the whole

community she would be rapt in ecstasy and

raised above the ground, while the super

natural beauty of her face struck everybody

with awe. Strange lights shone about her

as she prayed, and were seen by many.

 

Teresa, whose one desire was to remain

hidden and unnoticed, implored of God that

He would cease to bestow on her these out

ward manifestations of His favour. She

sought as much as possible the solitude of her

own cell, where no one could be witness of

what passed between her and her Divine

Lord. Longing to do something for His

glory, to give herself to Him as He had given

Himself to her, and to satisfy the burning

love of her heart, she made, with her direc

tor s permission, a vow to do in all things

what would be most pleasing to His Majesty.

 

For many years God had been preparing

Teresa for the work which He had for her to

  1. The supreme test was yet to come; her

soul was to be tried as gold is tried in the fire.

 

4

 

 

 

50 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

The lights died out and the consolations

faded away. Suffering of soul succeeded to

suffering of body; all that had passed in her

hours of ecstasy seemed but the shadow of a

dream. Doubts, fears and scruples assailed

her. It seemed to her that she was the vilest

of sinners deceived herself, she was deceiv

ing others. So did the evil one seek to drive

her to despair, and was defeated in his

attempt. For He who had been blessed in

the time of joy was blessed also in the time of

sorrow. Teresa clung to the thought of His

mercy and praised His Holy Name.

 

The devil, jealous of the work of God, only

redoubled his attacks. Hideous apparitions

beset her, but Teresa, with the Cross in her

hand, defied the powers of evil. ” They can

do nothing without Christ s permission/

she would say contemptuously. ” What have

we to fear ?”

 

If the good people of Avila had been anxious

before, they were much more anxious now,

for rumours of what was passing transpired

through the nuns of the Incarnation. Cer

tain friends went as far as to tell Teresa that

she was possessed, but she answered them

with gentleness and humility: “You have

only to look at the results. I was poor, and

 

 

 

PROBATION 51

 

God has made me rich; everybody must

see how He has changed me. Never will I

believe that the devil could have given

me strength to fight against my faults and

to practise the opposite virtues. God has

given me courage to do and bear all things

for His sake. I was weak, and He has made

me strong/

 

The truth of her words could not be denied,

and God Himself was to bear testimony

to it.

 

Although there were many Saints in Spain

at that time, none was more revered than

St. Peter of Alcantara, a Franciscan friar

who had lived a rigorous life of prayer, fasting

and penance, devoting himself entirely to

the service of God and the salvation of sinners.

To his eyes the veils that hide the unseen

were transparent, and he could read men s

souls like a book. The news reached Dona

Guiomar that the holy Franciscan was en

gaged in a visitation of his Order, which would

bring him to Avila, and she determined that

Teresa should see him.

 

It was not difficult to obtain permission to

take her away from the convent for a short

visit, and the plan was immediately carried

into execution. The two Saints understood

 

 

 

52 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

each other at once. All Teresa s difficulties

were smoothed away, and her doubts com

pletely set at rest. God and God alone was

working in her, said St. Peter of Alcantara;

she need have no fear.

 

But the holy old man was not satisfied

with this. Rumours of the gossip in the town

had reached his ears, and he went straight to

Father Baltasar Alvarez, with whom he had

a long interview, and from whom he heard

much of Teresa s obedience and humility.

His next visit was to Don Francisco de Sal-

cedo, whom he succeeded in convincing of

the truth, and even managed to persuade

Dr. Daza that he had been mistaken. Before

leaving Avila he bade Teresa write to him

whenever she wanted counsel and advice,

and promised to do all that he could to help

her.

 

Consoled and strengthened, Teresa was

ready now to bear the worst. The verdict

of St. Peter of Alcantara was not without

its effects in Avila. The gossip died down,

and the nuns of the Incarnation at last began

to believe that they might possibly have a

Saint in their midst.

 

It was about this time that Teresa had a

fearful vision in which God showed her the

 

 

 

PROBATION 53

 

place in Hell that would have been hers had

she been unfaithful to His inspirations. ” All

the horrors I had ever seen,” cries the Saint,

” were nothing compared to that; I have no

words to express it. The most painful thing

of all was the certainty that such torment

is eternal, that there is no hope, no end to

  1. It only lasted a moment, but when I

think of it, my blood freezes in my veins.”

 

After the vision came the thought that

souls created like hers to know and love God

were daily falling into that place of torment.

” What can I do, O my Lord, to save them ?”

she cried in anguish. The answer came in

a secret inspiration.

 

A desire took shape in Teresa s heart to

lead a more mortified religious life; to keep

the Rule of Mount Carmel in all its old per

fection ; to pray day and night as the Carme

lites had prayed of old, before the Mitigated

Rule had made their life so easy. She pic

tured to herself a convent, poor as the cave

of Bethlehem, secluded, silent, full of ardent

souls who lived for God s glory and who

prayed for the work of Holy Church and for

the souls of sinners. Such was her dream

how far away it seemed !

 

* * * *

 

 

 

54 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

It was the feast of Our Lady of Mount

Carmel, and the guests that had been taking

part in the festivities at the convent were

dispersing to their homes. The day was

drawing to a close, and Teresa was hoping

for a quiet hour in her oratory, when Juana

Suarez, the friend of her girlhood, came to

her cell for a little talk. She was soon fol

lowed by Anne and Inez de Tapia, two cousins

of Teresa s, lately professed, and two of her

nieces who were being brought up at the con

vent Maria and Leonora de Ocampo.

 

The conversation went briskly; Maria de

Ocampo, a beautiful girl, whose charms were

set off to the best advantage, was full of

questions about the religious life. The two

young nuns spoke of the Feast, and of the

difficulty of preserving recollection amongst

so many visitors. ” Very well, then/ said

Maria decidedly, ” let all of us who are here

go to some other place where we can live a

solitary life like hermits; if we had courage

to do that, we could found a convent/

Teresa, surprised at such a suggestion from

such a quarter, asked where the money was

to come from. ” From me,” retorted Maria

promptly; “I will give part of my dowry.”

Her sister was enchanted, the two young nuns

 

 

 

PROBATION 55

 

not less so. Juana Suarez alone threw cold

water on the scheme; the difficulties, she

thought, would be too great. The question

was discussed with all the enthusiasm of

youth; plans were made and the little con

vent built in the imagination at least of

the company.

 

The next day when Dona Guiomar came to

the convent, Teresa laughingly told her of

the project of her young kinswomen. :< It is

the inspiration of God,” said Dona Guiomar,

“and I will help you to carry it out. Let

us pray over it until we can see what to do.”

For Teresa the most essential thing was

to know God s will in the matter, and she

earnestly prayed that He would make it clear.

One morning after Holy Communion, she

tells us, our Lord appeared to her and bade

her take the work to heart. The new convent

was to be dedicated to St. Joseph, and Teresa

was to consult Father Baltasar Alvarez and

tell him what had passed. The latter sug

gested that she should ask the advice of

Father Angel de Salasar, Provincial of the

Carmelites, whereupon Dona Guiomar under

took to lay their plans before him, while

Teresa wrote to St. Peter of Alcantara, St.

Francis Borgia, and the Dominican St. Louis

 

 

 

56 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

Bertrand, to ask their counsel. The reply

was unanimous; the three Saints blessed the

project and bade Teresa accomplish it as

quickly as possible. Dona Guiomar was

equally successful in her embassy; the Pro

vincial was encouraging, and promised to

take the new convent under his charge.

 

It seemed as if there were nothing left but

to find a house and to found the convent;

but this was not so easy. The nuns of the

Incarnation, as well as the people of Avila,

were quite contented with the Mitigated

Rule, and were highly indignant at the idea

that it could be improved upon. What was

the use, they asked, of going back to the

Primitive Rule, with all its hardships, its

solitude, and silence ? The idea was received

with ridicule. ” Let Teresa keep quiet in

her own convent/ said the townspeople,

” instead of trying to turn everything upside

down; and let Dona Guiomar mind her own

business and not get herself talked about/

Others said that Teresa was mad to think of

leaving a convent where she was so comfort

able. The storm of tongues grew apace;

nuns, priests and people were against the

idea. Every movement of the two friends

was watched and remarked upon; the whole

 

 

 

 

THE APPARITION OF THE HOLY CHILD TO ST. TERESA.

 

 

 

PROBATION 57

 

town was in a tumult. But Teresa was used

to suffering and contradiction. On a little

bookmarker that she kept in her breviary

she had written the following words. They

were the secret of her calm :

 

” Let nothing trouble thee;

Let nothing affright thee.

All things pass away;

God alone changes not ;

Patience obtains all things.

To him who possesses God

Nothing is wanting;

God alone suffices.”

 

It was necessary to seek in Avila itself a

wise counsellor who would give them his

support. They found him in Father Pedro

Ibafiez, first theologian of the Convent of

St. Dominic. He had been professor at the

University of Salamanca, and was a great

student ; he was, moreover, revered in Avila as

a Saint. When Teresa and Dona Guiomar

exposed their plans to him, having asked for

a week to think it over, he spent the time in

prayer. Certain people of the town warned

him to have nothing to do with the project,

but he had sought a better Counsellor. When

Teresa and Dona Guiomar returned a week

later the verdict was clear and decisive.

Father Pedro would give them all the help

in his power, for the work was of God.

 

 

 

CHAPTER VI

 

THE DIVINE MISSION

 

” With so good a Friend and Captain ever present,

Himself the first to suffer, everything can be borne.

He helps, He strengthens, He never fails; He is the true

Friend.” ST. TERESA.

 

THE most influential man in Avila having

pronounced himself in favour of Teresa s

enterprise, several others took courage to

come forward to her assistance. Don Fran

cisco de Salcedo and Caspar Daza offered to

do all in their power to help, and some of

the greatest enemies of the scheme were con

verted. An unassuming little house on the

outskirts of the town was for sale; negotia

tions were at once set on foot to buy it.

 

But things were not destined to go so

smoothly. As the excitement died down in

the town, it increased in the Convent of the

Incarnation, Teresa s desire to found a con

vent of the Primitive Rule was looked upon

by the nuns as a personal affront to them

selves. Some even suggested that she should

 

58

 

 

 

THE DIVINE MISSION 59

 

be kept in confinement ; others, but not many,

took her part; the discussions grew bitter.

Complaint after complaint was sent to the

Provincial, who began to regret that he had

ever consented to befriend the undertaking.

Weary at last of the continual worry, he told

Teresa that he considered himself obliged to

withdraw his permission to found, urging as

his reason that the opposition was too great,

and that the money promised was not suffi

cient. Teresa, nothing daunted, told Father

Baltasar of the refusal, and asked him what

she should do. She was to obey, he answered,

and give up all thought of the foundation.

 

It seemed for the moment as if Teresa s

efforts and sufferings had been in vain, but

her faith was great. If it was God s will that

the convent should be founded, she reflected,

it would certainly be done. In the meantime,

her business was obedience, and she resolved

to practise it as perfectly as possible. Neither

in word nor in thought would she allow herself

to revert to the project that had been so dear

to her heart; in silence and in peace she went

about her usual work at the convent. When

Father Ibafiez came to see her she spoke to

him of God and of the spiritual life, but not

one word on the subject of the foundation.

 

 

 

60 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

It seemed as if she had completely forgotten

that such an idea had ever existed, but Father

Ibanez knew that this could not be so, and

was greatly impressed by her obedience.

 

Although Teresa had obeyed, her friends

were under no such obligation. Dona Guio-

mar, at Father Ibanez suggestion, had applied

to Rome for a brief authorizing the founda

tion; Don Francisco and Gaspar Daza were

also at work, and Teresa s docility seemed to

be bringing a blessing on their endeavours.

Six months had passed when Father Ibanez

suddenly resolved to leave Avila to devote

himself in silence and solitude to a life of

prayer. His departure seemed a serious loss

to the little group of workers, but God was

to provide for Teresa another friend, who

was destined to take his place. The rector

of the College of St. Giles was shortly after

wards withdrawn, and Father Gaspar de

Salazar, a strong, wise, and holy man, was

put in his place. Father Baltasar Alvarez

hastened to seek his advice with regard to

St. Teresa, who was presently ordered to

give the rector an account of her soul and

of the supernatural manifestations that she

had received. This was a thing which the

Saint disliked extremely, but no sooner had

 

 

 

THE DIVINE MISSION 61

 

she entered the confessional than she was at

peace. A secret intuition that Father Caspar

would understand and help her made every

thing easy.

 

Teresa was not mistaken. God had given

Father Caspar a special grace for the read

ing of souls. He bade the Saint s confessor

give her more liberty and fear nothing; the

Spirit of God was there. A little later the

Saint received an order from our Lord to

speak to Father Caspar on the subject of

the new foundation. ” Bid him meditate,”

said her Divine Master, ” on the words, O

Lord, how great are Thy works ! Thy

thoughts are exceeding deep. ” Father de

Salazar did so, and during his prayer saw the

whole enterprise in the light of God. That

very day he told Teresa that the Divine Will

had been made known to him; she must go

on with the undertaking.

 

It was agreed that they should work in

secret, for the nuns of the Incarnation had

prejudiced the Provincial so strongly against

the project that it would have been worse

than useless to appeal to him again. The

state of affairs seemed anything but promis

ing. Teresa was watched and distrusted by

her sisters in religion; the required funds were

 

 

 

62 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

not forthcoming; there was much to be done,

and she alone could do it. ” Ah, my beloved

Master,” she cried, ” why do You command

me to do impossible things ? What can I

do ? What am I good for ? I have neither

money nor knowledge.”

 

But there is something more necessary

than either money or knowledge to succeed

in God s work, and that is holiness. At her

Saviour s feet Teresa found courage to endure

for her Lord s sake all the difficulties that

lay before her.

 

Her first step was to write to her sister

Juana, married to a young nobleman of Alba,

Don Juan de Ovalle, to ask if her husband

could come to Avila and conclude the bargain

for the little house they had in view. He

came at once, and bought the house in his

own name, taking up his abode in it with his

wife, which made it possible for Teresa to

visit them and so to make her plans. But

the young couple were not rich, and could

give little more than their good will. Part

of the price at least must be paid down, and

workmen would have to be hired at once to

set the place in order.

 

Teresa as usual had recourse to prayer.

As she prayed, St. Joseph appeared to her

 

 

 

THE DIVINE MISSION 63

 

and bade her put the work in hand, for the

money would be forthcoming when required.

 

The workmen were accordingly engaged, plans

made, and the necessary alterations begun.

A few days later the Saint received a present

of a large sum of money from her brother

Lorenzo in Peru. She was thus able to pay

both the workmen and the creditors.

 

The house which they had bought was so

small that it seemed impossible to turn it

into a convent, and Teresa was greatly puzzled

how to fit in the dormitory and recreation-

room, not to mention the little chapel. While

she was trying to solve the difficulty our

Lord spoke to her. ” Have I not already told

theetogoin?” He said. ” How often have I

slept in the open air because I had no roof

to shelter me.”

 

Teresa humbled herself at her Divine

Master s feet, and went back to the task with

fresh courage; this time everything seemed

simple, and she saw at once how she could

manage.

 

The presence of the workmen made the

small house rather a comfortless dwelling for

Juana and her husband, but neither of them

thought of complaining. Their little son

Gonsalvo, aged five, was playing one day

 

 

 

64 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

amongst the workmen s materials when part

of a wall that was being knocked down fell

upon him. Crushed and senseless, the child

lay under the ruins for several hours, and was

at last found by his father, who, thinking him

dead, carried him into the house in speechless

anguish and laid him on Teresa s knees.

The Saint bent her head over the inanimate

little body, lowered her veil, and prayed

silently. Presently Gonsalvo opened his eyes,

smiled, sat up, and threw his little arms

round his aunt s neck. ” Do not be troubled,”

said Teresa to her sister, who was kneeling

beside her, weeping bitterly. “Here is your

son, take him.” Both Juana and her husband

believed that their child had been given back

to them through Teresa s prayers.

 

Another strange accident showed that the

evil one was doing all in his power to hinder

the work. A strong wall which had just

been carefully built fell suddenly during the

night. ” It will have to be rebuilt,” said

Teresa serenely when she heard the news.

” But we have not the money,” objected

Dona Guiomar. ” It will come,” replied the

Saint; and it did, that very day. Don Juan

was for making the workmen rebuild it at

their own expense, but Teresa would not

 

 

 

THE DIVINE MISSION 65

 

hear of it. ” Poor men !” she said. ” It is

not their fault. I know whose doing it is.

What efforts Satan makes to prevent the

work ! But it will be carried through in

spite of him/ The building was indeed

getting on, and the transformation of the

house was nearly complete. It had been

turned into the poorest little convent con

ceivable. Teresa s dreams seemed at last

on the verge of fulfilment.

 

But in spite of all the care taken to preserve

secrecy, suspicions had arisen of what was

going on. There was danger that these might

come to the ears of the Provincial, and that

he would order Teresa to give up the enter

prise. In that case, she would have to obey,

and the work would be brought to a standstill.

Our Lord, however, had His own ways of

providing against this difficulty.

 

Although Teresa was not appreciated in

her native town, rumours of her holiness had

reached as far as Toledo. St. Peter of Alcan

tara had borne witness to her sanctity, no

less than St. Francis Borgia and Father Pedro

Ibanez. It began to be whispered about that

there was a nun in the little town of Avila

whose power of prayer was so great that God

granted everything she asked of Him.

 

5

 

 

 

66 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

One of the greatest ladies of Toledo, Luisa,

Duchess de la Cerda, had just lost her husband.

It was her first great sorrow; the world which

had hitherto smiled so brightly upon her

seemed to be changed into a desolate wilder

ness. So great was her grief that her life

was despaired of, when someone spoke to

her of Teresa. Surely, thought the young

Duchess in her anguish, a soul so beloved of

God would have comfort for a sorrow such as

hers. She wrote to Father Angel de Salasar,

the Provincial of the Carmelites, to ask if

the Saint might pay her a visit.

 

Teresa s surprise was great when she

received an order from the Provincial to go

to Toledo to be the guest of the widowed

Duchess de la Cerda, who hoped for consola

tion from her presence. How could the

Duchess have heard of her existence, she

asked herself, and what would be the result

if she left the work that was just about to be

brought successfully to a close ? She sought

counsel of her Divine Master, and heard in

an ecstasy our Lord speaking to her. ” Go,

daughter,” He said; ct pay no attention to

those who would detain you. Fear not, I

will be with you.”

 

Father Gaspar de Salazar, hearing from

 

 

 

THE DIVINE MISSION 67

 

Teresa of the order she had received and of

our Lord s injunctions, urged her to start at

once. Confiding therefore the completion

of the convent to her sister and brother-in-

law, she set out for Toledo, accompanied by

a nun of the Convent of the Incarnation and

with Don* Juan de Ovalle as escort.

 

 

 

CHAPTER VII

 

SILENCE AND PATIENCE

 

” Let us somewhat resemble our King, Who had no

house save the stable at Bethlehem, wherein He was

born, and the Cross on which He died.” ST. TERESA.

 

TERESA found Dona Luisa de la Cerda in

bed, exhausted with the violence of her grief,

and refusing all consolation. The Saint set

to work at once to comfort her both in soul

and body, and after a few days succeeded

in inducing her to accept the Divine will with

love and generosity. The young Duchess

resolved to spend the rest of her life in the

service of God and in good works, and felt

sure that no one could teach her to do so as

well as Teresa. Her new friend must stay with

her, she declared, until she was strong enough

to stand alone. Her love and veneration

for the Saint showed itself in ways that were

often more of a cross to her guest than any

thing else. The humble Carmelite was

treated in the palace of the Duchess as if she

had been a queen; everybody bowed before

 

68

 

 

 

SILENCE AND PATIENCE 69

 

her and did her honour; her slightest wish

was consulted.

 

To Teresa, whose only desire was to live

in her little convent of St. Joseph in the

poverty and simplicity of Bethlehem, life in

a palace with its pomp and etiquette was a

kind of martyrdom. But if the adulation

of the members of the great household made

small impression on the Saint, her holiness

had much effect on them. Everyone came

to seek her advice and to ask her questions.

The relations and friends of Dona Luisa wanted

always to be with her, for she had help and

counsel for all. Amongst them was a young

girl, Maria de Salazar, distinguished no less

for her wit than for her beauty. It was

not long before Teresa s eyes had pierced

through the worldly and brilliant exterior

and read in Maria s heart a long-cherished

wish to give herself to God in religion. ” Are

these quite fit,” she said one day gently,

touching the rich jewels which served to set

off the young girl s beauty, ” for one who

desires to be the bride of Christ ?” Maria,

who had told no one of her secret, was greatly

astonished; but Teresa, who saw in her an

ardent and generous soul, meet to help her

in her plan of reform, did all she could to

 

 

 

7 o LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

ground her in the principles of religious

life.

 

It was while Teresa was at Toledo that

she made the acquaintance of Mother Mary

of Jesus, a Carmelite nun of Granada, who,

like herself, had long cherished the plan of

founding a convent of the Primitive Rule.

She had just returned from Rome, whither

she had gone with the permission of her

Superiors to obtain a brief from the Pope

authorizing her foundation. She had then

heard of Teresa s undertaking, and had set

out at once for Toledo to see her. The two

nuns talked long and earnestly of the project

that was so dear to their hearts. Mother

Mary was both holy and austere, but she had

neither Teresa s breadth of mind nor her

intelligence. Her work was not to prosper

until it had been incorporated with that of

the Saint.

 

From the Carmelite of Granada Teresa

learnt something unknown to her before

handthat the Primitive Rule forbade the

endowment of monasteries. She determined,

therefore, to start her little foundation without

revenues; but when her friends at Avila

heard of this resolve, there was a general out

cry; all were against it. It so happened that

 

 

 

SILENCE AND PATIENCE 71

 

St. Peter of Alcantara, passing through Toledo

at that moment, went to see Teresa, who told

him all about her project and the remon

strances of her friends. The holy Franciscan

was too great a lover of poverty to agree with

them ; he encouraged Teresa in her determina

tion to found without endowment. Shortly

afterwards, our Lord Himself intimated to

the Saint that it was His will that she should

do so, and those who had been so much against

it came round in the end to the same view.

 

The days were long past when the constant

distractions amongst which she lived in Dona

Luisa s palace would have disturbed Teresa s

recollection. She prayed at Toledo as she

had prayed at Avila, and her ecstasies and

visions continued. Although she sought with

the greatest care to conceal these favours

from those around her, she was not always

successful. People surprised her sometimes

while the Divine light was still shining from

her face and her thoughts were wholly rapt

in God.

 

One day a servant who had long suffered

from severe pains in the head and ears begged

the Saint to make the sign of the Cross on

her forehead. ” What are you thinking of ?”

cried Teresa. ” Make the sign of the Cross

 

 

 

72 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

yourself.” But even as she pushed the

woman gently away, her hand accidentally

touched the aching head, and the pain was

instantly cured.

 

In the meantime, the Duchess was becoming

more and more attached to her new friend,

and it began to seem as if Teresa s stay at

Toledo might be prolonged indefinitely. The

Provincial made no step to recall her to Avila,

and her friends were losing heart. Juana

had gone home to Alba, leaving her husband

as guardian of the unfinished convent, and

he, uncertain what to do, suddenly resolved

to go to Toledo to ask Teresa s advice. It

was decided that it would be better for him

to go back to his wife after having made a

few necessary arrangements at Avila. But

no sooner had Don Juan returned to the

little convent than he was suddenly seized

with fever.

 

It was at this moment that Teresa received

permission from the Provincial to return to

her convent. In spite of Dona Luisa s lamen

tations, the Saint set out for Avila, and

passing by St. Joseph s on her way, found

her brother-in-law ill and in great need of

assistance. Obedience obliged her to return

direct to the Incarnation, but she promised

 

 

 

SILENCE AND PATIENCE 73

 

to come back as soon as she could to nurse

him, and found no difficulty in obtaining

permission to do so.

 

Teresa realized in a moment how God had

blessed her enterprise during her absence.

The brief had just arrived from Rome author

izing the foundation of the little Convent of

St. Joseph. It was to be a house of the

Primitive Rule under the jurisdiction of the

diocesan Bishop of Avila, and nobody else

was to interfere with its affairs.

 

The Saint decided that now was the moment

to found. Many of her most devoted friends

happened at that moment to be in Avila.

St. Peter of Alcantara was the guest of Don

Francisco de Salcedo; Dr. Caspar Daza and

Father Caspar de Salazar, rector of the Jesuit

College of St. Giles, were both present in the

town, together with the Bishop, Monsignor

Alvaro de Mendoza.

 

The building was pushed on to completion,

while a private meeting, presided over by

St. Peter of Alcantara, was held to decide

what was to be the first step in the matter.

It was unanimously agreed that the Bishop s

approval must be sought without delay, and

the case was laid before him; but when he

learnt that it was proposed to found the

 

 

 

74 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

convent without endowment, he refused his

sanction. St. Peter of Alcantara was ill in

bed when the bad news was brought to him.

Worn out with his long life of penance, his

health was failing fast, and he knew that he

was near his end, but his spirit was as daunt

less as ever. Rising, he announced his in

tention of going himself to see the Bishop;

and as his legs were too weak to support him,

he had himself set on a mule, and so made

his way to the episcopal residence. To such

a petitioner Monsignor de Mendoza could

refuse nothing; he agreed to take the founda

tion under his jurisdiction and to protect it

against all attacks.

 

Before leaving Avila the holy Franciscan

visited the convent. ” This is indeed a

house of Joseph, a true cave of Bethlehem,”

he said, delighted with its poverty.

 

In the meantime, the building was pro

gressing rapidly. On the very day it was

finished Don Juan s fever left him, and he

understood what God had done. ” It is not

necessary for me to be ill any more,” he said,

laughing, and took lodgings in the town, that

Teresa might be more at liberty to make her

arrangements. The next thing was to collect

the little community. The first postulants

 

 

 

SILENCE AND PATIENCE 75

 

were Antonia de Henao, a connection of the

Saint s, proposed by St. Peter of Alcantara,

Maria de Paz, an adopted child of Dona

Guiomar s, Ursula de Revilla, a penitent of

Dr. Daza s, and Maria, a sister of Father

Julian of Avila, a young priest who was to

be the chaplain of the little convent.

 

On the feast of St. Bartholomew these

first foundation-stones of the Reformed Car

melites arrived at St. Joseph s, and were

welcomed by Teresa, who at once led them

to the chapel. There, in the presence of

the few faithful friends who had championed

the undertaking, Mass was said by Dr. Daza,

the Bishop s delegate, and the Blessed Sacra

ment placed in the tabernacle. The rough

habits of the Reform were then blessed; the

postulants were clothed; the Te Deum was

chanted; and the dream of Teresa s life was

accomplished. Prostrate before the altar, the

newly-made novices poured out their hearts

in love and gratitude to God, while the Saint,

rapt in ecstasy, seemed to be already in

heaven.

 

Teresa had long ago determined that in

order to efface all differences of rank in the

nuns of the Reformed Carmel, they should

take symbolic names borrowed from the

 

 

 

76 LIFE OF ST TERESA

 

Saints and angels or from the mysteries of

our Lord s life. Antonia de Henao therefore

became Antonia of the Holy Ghost; Ursula

de Revilla, Ursula of the Saints; Maria de

Paz, Maria of the Cross; and Father Julian s

sister, Maria of St. Joseph. To Teresa s

great regret she could not herself assume the

rough habit and coarse sandals prescribed by

the Primitive Rule, for she was still personally

under the jurisdiction of the Provincial.

Even her permission to remain at St. Joseph s

might be any day withdrawn, granted, as it

had been, that she might nurse her brother-

in-law, who was now strong and well.

 

Father Daza and his friends had left, the

ceremony was long over, but Teresa could

not tear herself away from the Tabernacle.

The little convent was at last founded; the

Rule of Carmel was at last to be practised in

all its perfection; that which God had com

manded had been done. The evil one, beaten

at every point, was to make one last attempt

on the chosen soul who had been appointed

to carry out God s plans. Teresa was sud

denly assailed with anguish as Satan suggested

to her that she had made the foundation

without her Superior s consent. The com

mands of our Lord Himself, the counsel of

 

 

 

SILENCE AND PATIENCE 77

 

His saints, the sanction of her director, the

brief from Rome all were forgotten. Doubts

and fears overwhelmed her. How would

these delicately nurtured young girls be able

to stand the austerities of the Primitive Rule ?

How would the convent be provided for,

founded as it was without endowment ? How

could she herself, weak in health, bear the

new life in all its strictness ? So did the

tempter seek to drive her to despair; but

Teresa called on her Divine Master, and the

clouds at last began to break. Had she not

asked our Lord to let her suffer for His sake ?

What then was to be feared ?

 

Summoning all her courage, Teresa pro

mised before the Tabernacle that she would

not rest until she had obtained permission

from her Superiors to live entirely at St.

Joseph s. As she made the promise, the

temptation left her.

 

 

 

CHAPTER VIII

  1. JOSEPH S

 

” A cowardly soul, afraid of anything but sin against

God, is a very unseemly thing, when we have on our

side the King omnipotent.” ST. TERESA.

 

THE news that the Convent of St. Joseph had

been actually founded spread through Avila

like wildfire. The poorer people in their

simple faith hailed it with joy, but those who

from the first had been against it gave full

vent to their indignation, and did all in their

power to influence the public against it.

This unendowed convent, they cried, would

take the bread out of the mouths of the poor;

it was a novelty, moreover, and the interests

of the town demanded that it should be

suppressed at once. “If the Moors had

invaded Avila,” said Father Julian, ” and

set the whole town on fire, the disturbance

could scarcely have been greater.”

 

When the news reached the Convent of

the Incarnation, Teresa was severely blamed.

She was insulting the whole Order, cried the

 

78

 

 

 

  1. JOSEPH S 79

 

nuns, by attempting to lead a more perfect

life than its other members, and the Prioress

was induced to order her instant return to

the Incarnation.

 

It was hard to leave the young novices

alone, but Teresa s first thought was obe

dience. Having blessed and embraced her

little family, she commended it to our Lord

and St. Joseph, placed Ursula of the Saints

in charge of the small household, and departed.

No sooner had she arrived at the Incarnation

than she was summoned before the Prioress

and the elder members of the community

to explain her conduct. She gently answered

all the questions put to her, excused herself

in no way for what she had done, and asked

pardon, if she had been in any way to blame.

It was then decided that she should be ques

tioned by the Provincial, and Father Angel

was hastily summoned. Before the assembled

nuns he rebuked Teresa sharply for her action,

but not a word in her own defence passed

her lips. Standing before them all like a

culprit, she humbly listened to what Father

de Salasar had to say, begging only that she

might be punished and then forgiven.

 

The Provincial, touched by Teresa s hu

mility, counselled indulgence, but of this the

 

 

 

8o LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

nuns would not hear. Her doings were a

source of scandal to the town, they declared;

she was the most imperfect amongst them

all, and had only founded the monastery

that people might think well of her. To

these accusations Teresa only replied that

it was perfectly true, that she was the greatest

sinner in the convent.

 

Father de Salasar was thoroughly per

plexed; turning at last to Teresa, he bade her

declare before the assembled company the

reasons that had moved her to act as she had

done. The simple eloquence of her reply

impressed him so much that, dismissing the

nuns, he ordered her to speak to him fully

of all that had passed between her Divine

Master and herself, the counsel she had taken,

and the means she had employed.

 

Father Angel was an upright man and a

good religious. As he listened to Teresa s

humble recital and realized how careful she

had been not to act in any way against

obedience, he was as much prejudiced in

her favour as he had been against her. Dis

missing her at last with his blessing, he

promised to allow her to return to St. Joseph s

as soon as the turmoil had subsided.

 

There was no sign, however, of this. A

 

 

 

  1. JOSEPH S 81

 

meeting was held in the town hall by the

people of Avila, at which it was decided that

the new convent should be suppressed and

the novices sent back to their homes. When

told of this decision the little community

flatly refused to obey; they appealed to their

God and to the King. They were under the

jurisdiction of the Bishop alone, they said,

and he alone could dismiss them.

 

The Governor, nothing daunted, held

another meeting, at which it was declared that

the convent had been founded without the

consent of the town, and was on this account

illegal. The Blessed Sacrament must there

fore be removed, the nuns expelled, and the

house pulled down. The order was about

to be given when a learned Dominican, Father

Bafiez, rose to his feet and addressed the

people. Teresa de Ahumada, he explained,

was unknown to him except by name; he

had never even seen her; he was therefore

wholly unbiassed in the matter. ” But it

is a marvel to me,” he continued, ” that the

townspeople of Avila can believe that a few

poor women hidden in their cells should

constitute a danger to the public or be a

burden on the town. What is the reason of

this meeting? Is there an enemy at our

 

6

 

 

 

82 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

gates ? Is the town on fire ? Are plague

and famine amongst us ? No. Four humble

Carmelites are praying in an obscure quarter

of the city. Moreover, the Bishop alone has

power to deal with the question, for the Holy

See has placed the convent under his juris

diction. Let those who think the foundation

illegal make their complaints to him.”

 

Father Banez was a man of weight in Avila ;

his opinion was respected, and for the moment

the danger was averted. The Governor was

obliged to give way, and the meeting was

dispersed; but the Saint s enemies were

determined not to be beaten. They did all

in their power to induce the Provincial and

the Prioress of the Incarnation to compel

Teresa to submit to their will, and the storm

raged on without abating.

 

The Saint s friends were not idle either.

Father Julian of Avila, who had constituted

himself Teresa s devoted squire and chaplain,

went backwards and forwards between St.

Joseph s and the Convent of the Incarnation,

bringing Teresa news of her daughters and

returning with words of comfort and consola

tion to the orphaned community. Father

Gaspar Daza was also watching over the new

foundation, zealously training the novices

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. JOSEPH S 83

 

in the ways of the spiritual life, while Don

Francisco de Salcedo provided for their

temporal necessities.

 

The authorities of Avila finally decided to

lay the case before the King s Council. Many

of Teresa s friends interested themselves in

her cause, and the lawsuit ended in a complete

triumph for the Reform, the Council blaming

the Governor severely for his action in the

matter. It only remained for Teresa to

obtain permission to return to St. Joseph s,

but this the Provincial hesitated to grant.

Father Pedro Ibanez, who had befriended the

Saint at the beginning of her enterprise, and

who was back for a short time in Avila, did

all in his power on her behalf. Even the

Bishop, Don Alvaro de Mendoza, wrote to

Father de Salasar, but with no effect. Teresa

at last took the matter into her own hands.

Beware, my Father, of resisting the Holy

Ghost,” she said one day solemnly to the

Provincial. At her words his hesitation

vanished. He not only gave her permission

to return herself to St. Joseph s, but even

allowed her to take with her some nuns from

the Incarnation who wished to join the Reform.

 

Who shall describe the joy at the little

convent as Teresa crossed the threshold !

 

 

 

84 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

Her first visit was to the chapel to thank

God for all His mercies and to offer herself

and her little flock to Him for ever. There

at the foot of the Tabernacle she saw in a

vision her Lord, who, stooping lovingly to

wards her, placed a crown on her head and

blessed her for what she had done in His

service. Then the Saint, together with her

companions from the Incarnation, put on

the coarse habit and the rough sandals of

the Reform. Dona Teresa de Ahumada was

now Teresa of Jesus.

 

And what of the little convent that she had

founded ? Father Julian of Avila, who wrote

the history of the foundation forty-two years

later, says:

 

” God willed to have a house in which He

could recreate Himself; a house in which He

could take up His abode; a garden in which

flowers should grow not of the kind which

blow on earth, but those which bloom only

in Heaven.”

 

It was truly the little sanctuary of which

Teresa had dreamed; a place of prayer and

penance for the salvation of souls, where

God was served in perfect fidelity.

 

The thought of the end for which the

convent had been founded was ever present

 

 

 

  1. JOSEPH S 85

 

with the Saint. ” Let us help by our prayers/

she would say to her novices, ” the apostolic

men who are working in the world to save

sinners, for they are the servants of our

King. If we contribute to their success by

our prayers we shall also have fought, we in

our solitude, for God s cause.”

 

Mortification, obedience and humility were

the virtues Teresa required of her daughters,

together with a holy joy and freedom of

heart in God s service. The different duties

of the little household were divided amongst

its inmates, Teresa taking her turn in the

kitchen with the others, and working harder

than them all. It was remarked that when

it was her turn to cook, everything that she

needed seemed to come as if by magic. It

was as if our Lord, knowing how she delighted

in making a little feast for her daughters,

took care to provide the means. On other

days when the fare was scanty, she would so

speak to them of the love of God that their

hearts were all on fire and every privation

was forgotten. When the nuns were not

at prayer or chanting the Divine Office, they

spent their time in spinning or mending;

every moment was turned to account, for

idleness, as Teresa well knew, opens a door to

 

 

 

86 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

many evils. The recreations, presided over

by the Saint, were full of gaiety and holy joy.

Teresa could not bear melancholy. ” A sad

nun is a bad nun,” she would often say, and

a depressing or depressed postulant had small

chance of admittance at St. Joseph s.

 

No one knew better than she the weakness

of human nature, and the dangers of giving

way to fussiness about health. She had

learnt by her own experience that God blesses

courage in this respect, and advised her

daughters to practise it. When they were

really ill, she bade them say so simply, but

as for trifling ailments, it was best to think

as little about them as possible. ” I beg of

you, my children, to bear your little ills in

silence/ she would say to her novices; ” they

are sometimes only the effect of the imagina

tion. The more we give in the worse we

get.” In the time of real suffering they were

to lift up their thoughts to Heaven. “How

sweet it will be for us at the hour of death/

she cries, ” to go to be judged by Him whom

we have loved above all things ! . . . What

happiness to think we are not going to a

strange country, but to our own, since it is

the home of that beloved Spouse whom we love

so much, and by whom we are so much loved !”

 

 

 

  1. JOSEPH S 87

 

The Bishop of Avila, Don Alvaro de Men-

doza, visited the convent frequently, and was

delighted with the fervour of its inmates.

One day he brought with him a beautiful

crucifix, which Teresa begged leave to show

to the community. She had returned to

the parlour and was talking to the Bishop,

when the sound of voices singing led her to

open the door leading into the cloister. A

little procession had been formed by the

novices, at the head of which marched the

youngest postulant holding the crucifix aloft,

and singing the litany of the Holy Name.

Instead, however, of ” Have mercy on us/ 1

they were chanting fervently, ” Stay with us.”

The application was obvious, and Teresa was

a little ashamed of her daughters, but the

Bishop only laughed. Needless to say, the

crucifix remained at St. Joseph s.

 

In the autumn of 1566 a holy missionary,

Father Maldonado, came to see Teresa. He

had just returned from the West Indies, and

had sad tales to tell of the ignorance and vice

of the natives. For some days after his

departure the Saint could do nothing but

pray to God to help these poor souls, that

they might not be lost eternally. As she

knelt weeping before the Tabernacle our

 

 

 

88 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

Lord appeared and said to her, Wait a

little while, my daughter, and great things

shall be revealed to you.”

 

Six months later the Saint heard that

Father John Baptist Rubeo, General of the

Order of Mount Carmel, was on his way to

Spain to visit the houses of his Order. She

was not without fear that the General might

diaspprove of her reform and use his authority

to order her to return to the Incarnation;

so bidding her daughters pray, she sent him

a humble invitation to visit St. Joseph s.

 

Now the General, who was a wise and holy

man, had come to Spain at the request of the

King, with the intention of introducing certain

reforms among the Spanish Carmelites. At

St. Joseph s he found all he had dreamed of

and more the very spirit of Carmel in all

its ancient integrity. It was the desire of

his heart, he said to Teresa, that such a seed

should take root and spread; it was the very

realization of all his hopes. Amongst the

houses of the Mitigated Rule he found little

zeal for reform, and returned frequently

during the time of his stay in Spain to talk

over difficulties and discuss plans with the

Saint. His wish was that she should found

other convents of the Primitive Rule, holding

 

 

 

  1. JOSEPH S 89

 

their authority straight from the Generals of

the Order, and this he gave her leave to do

in any places in the province of Castile where

the Ordinary of the diocese would give

permission.

 

Don Alvaro de Mendoza, the Bishop, was

very anxious to found houses of the Primitive

Rule for men also, but here the General

hesitated. The time, he said, was not quite

ripe for such an undertaking; it would come

later. He had already set out on his return

journey to Rome when he received a message

from Teresa earnestly begging that he would

grant the Bishop s request. To her he could

refuse nothing. Permission was therefore

given to found two monasteries of the Primi

tive Rule for men, on the condition that the

Provincial gave his consent.

 

 

 

CHAPTER IX

 

FOUNDATIONS

 

” For my part, I think that the rule of being able

to bear much or little is that of love.” ST. TERESA.

 

THE time had come when Teresa was to leave

the sweet solitude of St. Joseph s, the life of

prayer and silence that she loved so much.

The work of the foundations lay before her,

with its long journeys, its weary correspon

dence, its complicated business affairs, its

trials and its troubles. There is a belief

abroad in the world that a life of prayer and

contemplation tends to make people vague

and unpractical: the last ten years of St.

Teresa s life are a standing proof to the con

trary. Hers was a wisdom, an insight, and

a power wholly unknown to those who live

only in the world of matter; in everything

she undertook she succeeded.

 

About twenty miles distant from Avila

lay the little town of Medina del Campo,

chosen by Teresa for many reasons as the

site of her second foundation. The Jesuits

 

90

 

 

 

FOUNDATIONS 91

 

were already established there, and their

rector, Father Baltasar Alvarez, Teresa s

old friend, had promised to support the

undertaking. The Prior of the Carmelites

of the Mitigated Rule, Father Antonio de

Heredia, was also strongly in their favour,

and had promised to find them a house. The

one that he bought, however, was in such

ill repair that it was impossible to go into

it; Father Julian of Avila was therefore sent

to Medina to hire a lodging in which the

nuns could live until it was ready.

 

In the middle of August Teresa set out,

accompanied by her niece Maria de Ocampo,

now Sister Maria Bautista, and Sister Anne

of the Angels, both from the Convent of St.

Joseph s, and four nuns of the Incarnation

who wished to join the Reform. They were

half-way on their journey and close to the

little town of Arevalo, where they were to

spend the night, when they were met by a

messenger from Father Julian. The pro

prietor of the little house he had hired, which

was close to the Augustinian Convent in

Medina, declared that the Augustinians ob

jected to the Carmelites as neighbours, and

that he could not hold to his bargain.

 

Here was indeed a calamity. What was

 

 

 

92 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

to be done ? To return to Avila, they all

decided, was out of the question. While

her daughters slept Teresa prayed, and in

the morning came the solution. Father

Antonio de Heredia, who, eager to welcome

the Saint, had come to Arevalo to escort her

on her way, suggested that they should go

direct to the house which he had bought.

It was out of repair, it is true, but not too far

gone to afford them shelter; they could call

on the way at his own monastery of St. Anne s

for all they required for the chapel; Mass

could then be said and the convent founded

at once.

 

The plan sounded possible; the little com

pany set out for Medina. It was near mid

night when they reached St. Anne s, stopped

to collect the furniture for the chapel, and,

reinforced by two of Father Antonio s friars,

set off again on foot through the town, looking,

as Father Julian merrily remarked, exactly

like a caravan of gipsies who had robbed a

church. Luckily, they met few people, and

proceeded unnoticed until they reached a

tumble-down old house facing on to the

street. This was their future convent. Father

Antonio must have been suffering from

temporary blindness, thought St. Teresa,

 

 

 

FOUNDATIONS 93

 

when he had judged it fit for habitation.

Nevertheless, there they were, and the chapel

had to be got ready. Father Antonio and

the two friars set to work with a will. The

rubbish was cleared out, the palace swept,

hangings fixed; everybody did their best,

and by daybreak all was ready. A tiny bell

rang for the first Mass, and the people, greatly

astonished to find that a new convent had

been founded during the night, came flocking

into the little chapel. The nuns assisted from

behind the staircase door, for there was no

grille and the place was crowded. Teresa s

soul was flooded with joy at the thought that

her Divine Master had another sanctuary on

earth, and all trials were forgotten.

 

But when the Mass was over and their

new abode appeared in the searching light of

day, the Saint saw what the darkness of the

night had mercifully hidden. The chapel

was on the street, and seeing the state of

dilapidation of the whole building, anyone

might have got in; the house seemed to be

tottering to its ruin. But the sight of the

poverty of the new foundation only served to

increase the devotion of the people, who

continued to flock to the little chapel to

pray. Teresa set men to watch by night,

 

 

 

94 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

for fear of thieves, and watched herself, lest

the men should sleep. A week later a rich

merchant of Medina kindly offered the upper

floor of his house to the nuns while the neces

sary repairs were carried out.

 

Father Antonio de Heredia, the Prior of

St. Anne s, continued to befriend the convent,

and when Teresa mentioned her intention

of founding a house of the Primitive Rule

for men, immediately offered himself as her

first subject. A few days later the Saint

received a visit from a holy old friar who had

also heard of the project. He came to

recommend to her notice a young religious

who, not content with the Mitigated Rule,

had resolved to join the Carthusians. The

next day, Father John of St. Matthias, as

the young friar was called, made his ap

pearance in person. Teresa was delighted

with him; his modesty, wisdom and piety,

added to his diminutive stature, gave him

something of the air of an angelic child.

” I had a religious and a half,” Teresa would

say, laughing, when she told the story in

later years, ” wherewith to start the Reform.”

But the ” half -religious,” known to history

as St. John of the Cross, was to be the very

prop and stay of the whole undertaking.

 

 

 

FOUNDATIONS 95

 

The Saint bade him continue his theological

studies for a year, until the time should be

ripe for the foundation.

 

In the meantime, Don Bernardino de

Mendoza, younger brother of the Bishop of

Avila, had offered Teresa a house and garden

if she would found a convent at Valladolid.

Scarcely had she accepted his offer when her

old friend Dona Luisa de la Cerda came to

Medina to beg the Saint to make a foundation

on her property at Malagon. This Teresa

did not see her way to do, and refused. She

then set out for Alcala, whither she had been

entreated to go by a lady of the Court of

Philip II., who had helped Mother Mary of

Jesus to found there her new Convent of

the Reform. The foundation was not pros

pering owing to the excessive austerities of

the foundress, who wrote herself begging

Teresa to come and teach her the true spirit

of the Order.

 

Such a humble plea could not be refused.

The Master s interests were at stake; the

Saint set out at once. Mother Mary received

Teresa as an angel sent from heaven, gave

her full authority, and begged her to ex

plain how she had * succeeded so wonder

fully in producing the perfect life they had

 

 

 

96 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

dreamed of together, when she herself had

failed.

 

Teresa s teaching was eagerly listened to;

the austerities were diminished; the spirit

of love and joy entered into the hearts of the

community, and when their visitor left them

two months later, all were happy and con

tented.

 

Dona Luisa was still begging for her founda

tion at Malagon, and, induced thereto by

Father Banez advice, Teresa decided to

grant her wish. Having set all in order at

Medina, she went to Toledo, taking with her

four nuns from Avila. Here they were

joined by an old friend, Maria de Salazar,

who was the first religious to be professed

at the new convent. Having remained two

months at Malagon to put all in order, Teresa

resolved to go to Valladolid.

 

But Valladolid was sixty miles away, and,

worn out with hard work and travelling, the

Saint fell sick at Toledo, where she was obliged

to remain for rest and treatment. She was

scarcely well when she set forth again, only

to be attacked once more at Avila by an

illness which obliged her to stay at St. Joseph s

for another month, to the great delight of

her daughters. While she was there, a

 

 

 

 

i

 

 

 

  1. TERESA.

From the painting l>y Brother John de la Miseria.

 

 

 

FOUNDATIONS 97

 

Spanish gentleman, having heard that she

proposed to found a Monastery of barefooted

Carmelites for men, offered her a tiny house at

Durvelo, a little village near Medina. Teresa

gratefully accepted the gift and visited her

new property on the way to Valladolid. It

was indeed very small, and exceedingly dirty ;

Father Julian declared that nothing could

ever make it fit for a monastery, but Teresa

thought otherwise, and described it to Father

John and Father Antonio when they came to

see her at Medina. They were ready, they

declared, for the love of God, to take up their

abode in a stable ; the sooner the better.

 

But Father Antonio had first to resign his

office of Prior and put things in order at St.

Anne s, and it was decided that while he did

so Father John of the Cross should go to

Valladolid with Teresa to be instructed in

the Rule of the Reform. The foundation

in that town was successfully carried through,

but for Durvelo the consent of the Provincial

was necessary, and Teresa had not much to

hope for from Father Angel de Salasar. Con

sent was, however, obtained by means of an

influential friend, and Father John of the

Cross, armed with Teresa s blessing, and the

coarse habit that she had made for him with

 

7

 

 

 

98 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

her own hands, set out accompanied by a

carpenter, who was to make the necessary

alterations in the tiny building. Father An

tonio arrived soon after with a brother from

St. Anne s, and when Teresa visited them

three months later she found the foundation

in full swing. The cells, it is true, were so

narrow that no one could turn round in them ;

the beds were of straw with a stone for a

pillow; the whole furniture consisted of a

skull and two sticks in the form of a cross;

but the fervour of the three Fathers made up

for everything.

 

The Primitive Rule was now planted in the

heart of the Order of Carmel. There were

troubles and sorrows ahead, but the grain

of mustard seed had been sown ; it was growing

rapidly, and in the time to come its branches

were to reach to the ends of the earth.

 

 

 

CHAPTER X

 

PRIORESS OF THE INCARNATION

 

” The love and fear of God are like two strong castles,

from which war is made against the world and the devil.”

  1. TERESA.

 

FOUNDATIONS followed each other rapidly

at Toledo, Salamanca, Alba, and Pastrana,

in which latter place Teresa, to her great joy,

was also able to establish a second monastery

of friars. She was looking forward to a time

of well-earned repose with her daughters at

Salamanca when the Provincial of the Miti

gated Rule began to interfere with her convent

at Medina. It was not the first time that

this had happened, and Teresa wrote him a

firm but respectful letter reminding him that

all the foundations of the Reform were under

the jurisdiction of the General of the Order

alone. The reply of the Provincial was to

cancel the election of the Prioress who had

just been appointed at Medina, and to put

a nun of the Mitigated Rule from the Convent

of the Incarnation in her place. Teresa, who

 

99

 

 

 

ioo LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

had hastened to the assistance of her

daughters, was ordered, together with the

deposed Prioress, to return at once to Avila

under pain of severe censure. Although the

convents of the Reform were not under the

Provincial s jurisdiction, Teresa considered

that she herself was, for she had entered and

made her profession in a house of the Mitigated

Rule. She therefore obeyed, although her

heart was heavy at the thought of leaving

her daughters at Medina in the hands of an

entirely incapable Superior.

 

It was at this very moment that, a second

visitation of the Order having been arranged

by Pope Pius V. and Philip II., two holy and

learned Dominicans were despatched to Spain

on this mission. The first halt of Father

Hernandez, who had been appointed Visitor

of Castile, was at the Monastery of the Bare

footed Friars at Pastrana. Delighted with

the fervour and austerity which he found

there, he next visited the convent of nuns,

the holiness of whose lives gave him an ardent

desire to know the Saint who had planned and

executed the Reform. Teresa was at Avila,

they told him, and thither he went to see her.

While there, having heard of the doings at

Medina, and that the intruded Prioress was

 

 

 

PRIORESS OF THE INCARNATION 101

 

heartily sick of her position, Father Hernandez

determined to remedy the evil. Going straight

to Medina, he presided, by virtue of the

authority given him by the Holy See, at a

new election, where, at his suggestion, Teresa

herself was chosen Prioress.

 

It took the Saint two months to repair the

mischief that had been done, but peace and

order were soon restored, and sorrow gave

way to joy. For Teresa herself, another and

a heavier cross was in store, an unexpected

and overwhelming sorrow. She received a

letter from Father Hernandez bidding her

return at once to Avila. In virtue of the

authority given him over the whole Order, he

had appointed her Prioress of the Convent of

the Incarnation.

 

The task of the Visitor was certainly not

an easy one. His mission was to introduce

certain reforms amongst the Carmelites of the

Mitigated Rule; to make them practise at

least what their Rule enjoined. The effect

produced on Father Hernandez, fresh from

the convents of the Primitive Rule, by the

sight of the disorder and relaxation which

reigned at the Convent of the Incarnation

can well be imagined. Things had not im

proved since Teresa s departure, and there

 

 

 

102 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

was much need of reform in every way. How

could such a state of things be remedied ?

Who could be found strong enough, patient

and gentle enough, to introduce the necessary

reforms and make these poor souls practise

even the Mitigated Rule with fidelity ? One

person and one only seemed to him to fulfil

the required conditions, and that one was

Teresa.

 

If the appointment was a blow to Teresa,

it was no less of a shock to the nuns of the

Incarnation, and they resolved to resist it

with all their power. Teresa would try to

enforce upon them the austerities of the

Primitive Rule, they protested angrily to one

another. They did not want to be re

formed; they were quite contented as they

were. They would die, they declared, before

they accepted her as Prioress.

 

To Teresa the burden seemed almost greater

than she could bear. How could she leave

her newly founded convents ? Would not

such a charge absorb all her time and all her

strength ? How could she make these nuns,

already strongly prejudiced against her,

practise their Rule and give up the customs

to which they held so strongly ? At our

Lord s feet she poured out all her misgivings

 

 

 

PRIORESS OF THE INCARNATION 103

 

and all her sorrow, and there, as always, she

found the help she needed. Take courage,”

said her Divine Master, ” and know that it is

my wish. It will not be so difficult as you

think ; and your foundations will not suffer.

Cease to resist, for my power is great.”

 

Early in October Teresa set out for the

Convent of the Incarnation, accompanied

by the Provincial, Father Angel de Salasar,

and another ecclesiastic. Standing in the

presence of the community and the Provincial,

she could not but remember another occasion

when she had stood, not as now in the place

of honour, but as a culprit before her judges.

And yet she had suffered less then than she

was suffering now.

 

When the act of election which made

Teresa Prioress was read, the storm broke

loose. Shouts and cries of indignation

drowned the voice of the Provincial. A few

of the nuns who were in Teresa s favour tried

to intone the Te Deum and to force their way

through the crowd to conduct her to the choir,

but the attempt was hopeless. The Pro

vincial threatened the rebellious party with

the censures of the Church; nobody listened,

and the uproar continued. Through the

raging crowd Teresa at last succeeded in

 

 

 

104 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

escaping to the chapel, where she prayed

earnestly for help from Heaven. Then, re

turning to the Chapter-room, where Father

Angel was still struggling to enforce silence

and submission, she went about to each nun

in turn, speaking to them gently and saying

aloud before them all that it was not astonish

ing that they should accept ungraciously a

Prioress who was so unworthy of the office.

 

Though Teresa was at last installed, the

nuns were not vanquished. When the first

Chapter was held, they agreed that they

would declare openly that they would never

recognize her as Prioress. But while they

were planning, Teresa was planning too.

When the nuns entered the Chapter-room, the

Prioress s stall was occupied by a large

statue of Our Lady, the keys of office were in

her hand, and Teresa sat on a low stool at

her feet. The application was easy to see:

Our Lady was Prioress of the Incarnation,

the Saint was to be her humble servant; the

hearts of the nuns were a little softened, and

still more so when Teresa spoke.

 

“If the sacrifice of my life or of my blood

would help you,” said their new Prioress,

u I would make it. Why should you look

upon me as a stranger ? I am a daughter

 

 

 

PRIORESS OF THE INCARNATION 105

 

of this house, and your Reverences sister.

You need not fear my rule. Though I have

lived amongst the Carmelites of the Primitive

Rule, I know, by the grace of God, how to

govern those who are not of the Reform.

My wish is that we should serve God in meek

ness, doing the small amount our Rule

demands out of love for Him who loves us

so much. Our Lord is merciful, and though

our weakness is great He will help us.”

 

The nuns hearts were touched, and they

promised obedience to Teresa, begging her

to reform whatever was opposed to the

practice of their Rule. The first thing to be

done was to make them happy in their

religious life, and to this Teresa brought all

her genius, her tact, and her knowledge of

human nature. She succeeded beyond all

expectation. Gradually the visits in the

parlour were diminished; Divine Office was

regularly sung; cheerful recreations, spiritual

reading, prayer, and work took the place of

the old idleness and distractions; discontent

and weariness gave way to joy and fervour.

This was not all done in a day, but by degrees,

the nuns learning ever more and more to

appreciate and love the Mother that God

had sent them. She could read every heart,

 

 

 

106 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

and had help and sympathy for every diffi

culty. Full of courage herself, she had the

gift of giving courage to others. When,

through her influence, Father John of the

Cross had been appointed confessor to the

convent, Teresa could truly say that her

daughters of the Incarnation bade fair to

rival their sisters of the Reform in their zeal

and fervour in God s service. The work that

had been done, and the earnest efforts that

had been made, were shortly to receive the

seal of God s approval.

 

The nuns were all assembled on the feast-

day of St. Sebastian in the oratory where

the first Chapter had been held. They had

just begun to sing the Salve Regina when

Teresa, looking upwards, saw suddenly that

the statue of the Mother of God which had

remained in the Prioress s stall had vanished.

In place of it there stood our Blessed Lady

herself, surrounded by adoring angels who

hovered in a circle above the stalls of the

community. The vision lasted until the

antiphon was ended, when the nuns, struck

by the sight of Teresa s radiant face, asked her

eagerly what had happened, and heard from

her own lips the account of what she had

seen.

 

 

 

PRIORESS OF THE INCARNATION 107

 

To this day the Prioress s stall in the Con

vent of the Incarnation remains vacant in

Our Lady s honour. The nuns sit on the

footstools below their stalls, which remain

also empty, and are decorated with flowers

in remembrance of the vision.

 

 

 

CHAPTER XI

 

THE LAST TRIAL

 

” Though trials or persecutions increase, yet if we

bear them without offending our Lord, rejoicing in

suffering for His sake, it will be all the greater gain.”

  1. TERESA.

 

TERESA had been about two years at the

Convent of the Incarnation when Father

Hernandez gave her leave to visit some of

the houses of the Reform where her presence

was urgently needed. The foundation at

Pastrana especially was in a very difficult

situation, for its foundress, the Princess of

Eboli, having suddenly lost her husband,

had announced her intention of entering the

convent as a nun.

 

The Prioress was aghast, and not without

reason, for she had had some experience of

the noble lady s whims and caprices. The

news that the Princess had had herself

clothed with the habit in her own palace

and was on her way to the convent filled all

hearts with a consternation which her actions

 

108

 

 

 

THE LAST TRIAL 109

 

only served to augment. Her request that

two of her waiting-women should be instantly

admitted as novices having been refused,

she sent for a Prior of the Mitigated Rule

to enforce her commands. When the Prioress

objected that it was altogether against the

rules that she should receive in the cloisters

the people who came to condole with her

on her husband s death, the self-made novice

replied that the convent belonged to her, and

she would do what she chose in it. After

three weeks of religious life she departed as

suddenly as she had come, dimly conscious

of the fact that she had made a fool of herself,

and furiously indignant with everybody and

everything. To satisfy her ill-humour, she

withdrew all that she herself as well as her

husband had given to the convent, leaving

the nuns in the most abject poverty.

 

Teresa was busy with a foundation at

Segovia, but as soon as she was free she set

out for Pastrana, determined to withdraw

the nuns from their impossible position and

to give up the house altogether. But the

Princess, although she would do nothing

more for the foundation, was determined that

it should remain, and the community had to

escape from the convent in thejlarkness of

 

 

 

no LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

the night. They made their way with some

difficulty to Segovia, where the Prioress was

placed in charge of the new foundation.

 

Teresa s term of office at the Incarnation

had now expired, and she had great difficulty

in preventing the nuns from re-electing her.

” I love the house as my mother, and you all

as my sisters/ she said to them, ” but I

cannot remain with you. My other houses

need me too much.” She was then begged

to choose her successor, and having named

the sub-Prioress, who was immediately elected,

the Saint gave herself up once more to the

work of the foundations.

 

She was now over sixty years of age, worn

out with hard work and ill-health, but her

spirit was as valiant as ever. ” To suffer

or to die,” had been her constant prayer, and

her longing to share in the Passion of her

Divine Lord was to be satisfied more fully

than ever during the last years of her life.

 

The Carmelite Friars were not, as were

their sisters of the Reform, under the direct

jurisdiction of the General of the Order, but

were governed by the Provincials of the

Mitigated Rule. That sooner or later there

would be trouble on account of this arrange

ment had always been foreseen by St. Teresa,

 

 

 

THE LAST TRIAL in

 

but for the moment it was impossible to

remedy it. The Dominican Visitors, Father

Hernandez and Father Vargas, had been so

delighted with the fervour and zeal of the

Friars of the Reform that they had established

them in several new foundations, Father

Vargas going so far even as to relegate to

Father Jerome Gratian, one of the most

gifted amongst them, his own powers as

Visitor of the Order.

 

The Carmelites of the Mitigated Rule were

already jealous of the growth and prosperity

of the Reform; no sooner did they hear of

this new mark of favour than, filled with

indignation, they denounced Father Vargas

action to their General in Rome. This new

growth, they complained, was troubling the

peace of the Order; there would soon be a

schism in its midst. Every kind of charge

was brought against the friars of the Primitive

Rule. They were rebellious, disobedient ; they

founded new monasteries without permission ;

they wanted to enforce their reforms on the

whole Order.

 

Father Rubeo believed these reports. He

passed severe censures on the Barefooted

Friars, and sent Father Tostado, a Portuguese

Carmelite, to Spain to act as his representative,

 

 

 

H2 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

giving him authority to settle all the affairs

of the Order. A long and weary struggle

ensued. The Papal Nuncio and the King

upheld the Friars of the Reform, while the

far more powerful body of the Mitigated

Rule, with Father Tostado at their head,

were determined to drive them out of their

houses. Teresa prayed and suffered. The

work of long years seemed in danger of being

overthrown, but her trust was in God, by

whose inspiration she had acted.

 

In the meantime, new foundations for nuns

were made at Veas and Seville. The Saint

started for the latter town, accompanied by

a few of her daughters, in the midst of the

heat of a Castilian summer. They travelled

in a covered cart, and Teresa was attacked

by fever on the way. The only shelter they

could get was an attic directly under the

roof of a poor little inn. It had no windows,

and the pitiless sun beat in through the door

whenever it was opened; it was easier to

continue the journey than to seek rest in

such a place. While they were crossing the

Guadalquivir the ferry-boat got adrift, and

they were nearly drowned. They were rest

ing in a field near Alvino when a violent

quarrel broke out between some peasants

 

 

 

THE LAST TRIAL 113

 

and soldiers who were passing. Knives and

swords were drawn, things looked dangerous,

and the nuns were very much alarmed. But

Teresa, going straight into the midst of the

combatants, bade them remember that they

were under the Eyes of God, who would one

day judge them. There was something in

the face and voice of the Saint that strangely

calmed their passion. Swords and knives

were sheathed, anger was forgotten, and

they went their way in peace.

 

At last Teresa and her daughters reached

their journey s end. The convent at Seville

was founded, but fresh sorrow was in store.

 

At the time of the foundation of Pastrana,

the Princess of Eboli, having heard that the

Saint, in obedience to an order of her confessor,

had written an account of her life, requested

that it should be given her to read. Teresa

refused, whereupon the Princess, highly in

dignant, represented that the privilege had

been granted to the Duchess of Alba and Dona

Luisa de la Cerda. Why, therefore, should

she, equally a patroness of the Order, be

excluded ? The Saint was reluctantly obliged

to yield, but her fears were justified, for the

Princess, utterly incapable of understanding

what she read, lent the book to her friends,

 

8

 

 

 

n 4 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

and Teresa was unable to recover it. Later

came the death of the Prince and the un

pleasant episode at Pastrana which made the

Princess Teresa s inveterate enemy. Here

was a chance for revenge. The great lady

denounced the book to the Inquisition as

unorthodox.

 

In spite of the fact that it had been ap

proved by eminent theologians, Teresa herself

in her humility believed that what she had

written must be full of faults. She was in

the greatest distress, for she feared that if it

were condemned the scandal would fall upon

the whole Order. Her apprehensions, how

ever, were soon set at rest. The book was

not only approved by the Holy Office, but

commended; the spite of the Princess had

done the Saint more good than harm.

 

In the meantime, the affairs of the Bare

footed Friars were going from bad to worse.

Teresa herself, as their foundress, was in

cluded in the calumnies which were daily

being circulated against them. A Decree of

the General Chapter condemned her, in punish

ment for her disobedience, to confine herself

to one of her convents and to remain there

permanently. The Saint replied in a spirit

of filial obedience, but with the deepest

 

 

 

THE LAST TRIAL u 5

 

sorrow. Her only comfort, she wrote to

Father Rubeo, in the trials she had had to

bear was the consideration that she had be

lieved herself to be carrying out his orders

and doing God s will.

 

The nuns of Seville, before Teresa left them,

as they thought for ever, obtained permission

for Brother John de la Miseria, a friar of the

Reform, to paint her portrait. Brother John

was an unskilful artist, and better at prayer

than at painting; but after an incalculable

number of sittings he declared that the

picture was finished. “God forgive you,

Brother John, for making me so ugly !” cried

Teresa when she saw it, merrily, ” after all

you have made me suffer.”

 

In the autumn of 1576 the Saint arrived

at Toledo accompanied by a young and holy

lay sister, Anne of St. Bartholomew, who was

henceforth to be her inseparable companion.

Father Tostado, determined to uphold the

honour of the Mitigated Rule, had in the

meantime called together a Provincial Chapter

where it was decreed that the Friars of the

Reform were to be shod, to wear the usual

habit, and to be under the direction of the

Superiors of the Mitigated Rule. They were

to open their houses to all who should be

 

 

 

n6 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

sent to them and go themselves, if required,

to live in any house of the Order. The decree

meant the complete annihilation of the Re

form ; the Barefooted Friars resolved to resist

it to the utmost, and the Friars of the Miti

gated Rule resorted to violence. Father John

of the Cross was imprisoned, and so harshly

treated that his life was in danger. Mis

representations were sent to Rome, with the

result that another decree was issued, making

the nuns as well as the friars of the Reform

subject to the government of the Superiors of

the Mitigated Rule, and forbidding them to

receive novices. It was ruin, total and com

plete. When the news reached Teresa at

St. Joseph s, for once her strong spirit failed

her. All day long she remained alone praying

and weeping in the bitterness of her heart.

 

It was the Eve of the Nativity, and as the

night wore on Sister Anne of St. Bartholomew

knocked softly at the Saint s door and

begged her to take some nourishment before

she went to the choir for Matins. Having

succeeded in inducing her to come to the

refectory, the sister placed food before her

and retired to a little distance; but still

Teresa sat motionless, absorbed in her grief.

Then in a vision Sister Anne beheld our Lord

 

 

 

THE LAST TRIAL 117

 

standing before the Saint and looking at

her with eyes full of tender compassion.

Taking the bread which lay on the table,

He blessed it and gave it to her, bidding her

eat for love of Him. Courage and hope

returned to Teresa s heart; the Master had

not forsaken the work that He had inspired.

Next day she sent word to all the houses of

the Reform to redouble their prayers and

penances, writing at the same time to the

King to implore his help.

 

The authorities, deceived for a time, were

beginning to see where the truth lay. The

calumnies of the friars of the Mitigated

Rule were proved false. After long and weary

waiting a brief was published withdrawing

all the houses of the Reform from the govern

ment of the Mitigated Order. Shortly after

wards Pope Gregory XIII. decreed that the

friars and nuns of the Primitive Rule should

be united in a separate Province governed by

a Provincial of their own choosing. Teresa

was set at liberty; the Reform was saved.

 

 

 

CHAPTER XII

 

THE END OF SORROW

 

“Our Lord said to me one day: Thinkest thou,

my daughter, that meriting lies in fruition ? No, merit

lies only in doing, in suffering, and in loving.

  1. TERESA.

 

IN the end of June, 1578, St. Teresa, in

obedience to the order of the Provincial, set

out on a last visitation of her convents.

At Malagon she was laid up with an attack

of paralysis, but as soon as she was able to

move continued her journey. At Toledo she

fell ill again, but refused to rest. ” I am so

used to suffering/ she said, smiling, ” that

I can bear it and still go on.” After a week

of weary travelling in a rough cart over

mountainous country she reached Segovia;

it was mid-August before she came to Valla-

dolid, where she was again so ill that her life

was despaired of.

 

But new foundations were being asked for

in several places, and as long as the Saint

had life and breath she must be about her

 

118

 

 

 

THE END OF SORROW

 

Master s business. At Burgos there were

trials without number. The Archbishop, after

having given his consent to a foundation,

suddenly drew back and opposed the project;

Teresa was begged to come herself and try

what she could do. She was in a burning

fever, but would not on that account delay.

11 Go, my daughter, and fear nothing,” her

Divine Master said in answer to her prayer

for guidance. ” I am with thee.”

 

It was bitter wintry weather when the little

party, consisting of the Saint, her faithful

Sister Anne of St. Bartholomew, her niece

Teresita, and Father Jerome Gratian, started

on their journey. The floods were out, and

the whole country under water. The nuns

had to get out of the cart and walk, or rather

wade, through the icy stream, for the road

had altogether disappeared. It was Teresa,

under the burden of her sickness and her

seventy years, who encouraged them and

kept up their hearts; but presently her foot

slipped, and she was nearly carried away by

the torrent. ” Ah, Lord/ she cried with

loving familiarity, ” why do You put such

difficulties in our way ?” Do not complain,

my daughter,” was the answer; ” it is thus

I treat my friends.” ” Ah, my Lord,”

 

 

 

120 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

lamented the Saint, ” that is why You have

so few.”

 

Presently they were able to get into the

carts again, but these stuck in the mud, which

made another long delay. At last in a

torrential downpour of rain they reached

Burgos, where a noble lady, Dona Catarina

de Tolosa, had offered them hospitality.

As may be imagined, the journey had not

improved Teresa s condition. The Arch

bishop, approached once more on the subject

of the foundation, declared that he would

give his consent on condition that the nuns

had a good house and means of subsistence;

but a house could not be found.

 

In the meantime, the Carmelites had to go

out to church. One day as they were walk

ing along beside a dirty stream, Teresa gently

asked a woman who was standing in the

middle of the footpath to let them pass.

For sole answer the woman called her a

hypocrite, and pushed her into the gutter.

The nuns were very angry, but the Saint

bade them take no notice. ” The good

woman has spoken truly and acted justly,”

she said; ” that is only what I deserve.”

Another day when she was kneeling in the

church,”some men who were passing in a hurry

 

 

 

THE END OF SORROW 121

 

gave her such a push that they knocked her

down. Teresa only laughed at her ill luck

and made excuses for them.

 

At last a kind doctor of Burgos, who had

been called in by Father Jerome Gratian

to prescribe for the Saint, spoke of her to

his friend Ferdinand de Malauga, who offered

to lodge the little community in an attic near

the chapel of the large hospital of which he

was governor. This proposal, with its promise

of privacy, Teresa gratefully accepted, to

the regret of Dona Caterina, who would fain

have retained her holy guests. The dwelling

was poor, but it looked on to the chapel, and

there were the sick in the hospital to visit

and console. The patients could not have

enough of the Saint. ” When Mother Teresa

is here,” they would say, ” all our pains get

better; the very sight of her does us good.”

 

Dr. Aguiar was still searching everywhere

for a house. The only one for sale was de

scribed as most unsuitable in every way, but

as soon as Teresa saw it she was delighted.

The purchase was therefore concluded, the

Archbishop seeming to approve; but as soon

as the nuns had taken possession, he ex

pressed his displeasure, and it was only

after many anxious moments that his full

 

 

 

122 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

consent was obtained. A month later the

River Orlanzon, swelled by violent rains,

overflowed its banks and flooded the whole

district. Trees were uprooted, houses dis

appeared; a sea of water surrounded the

convent. Teresa, who had refused to join

the crowds of people who had taken refuge

on higher ground, remained to pray with her

daughters. The cold was intense, for the

water had invaded the lower part of the house,

and every gust of wind threatened destruction.

The nuns were half starving, for what food

there was was under water. At last, when all

seemed hopeless, the floods began to abate,

and the people of Burgos, in great anxiety

as to the fate of the Carmelites, came to the

rescue. The doors of the house were broken

open so that the water might escape, and the

rubbish was cleared out.

 

In the end of August Teresa went to

Valladolid, where she had intended to take

a much needed rest, but here a new heart

break awaited her. As Sister Anne after

wards said, ” God willed that she should have

nothing but suffering all along the road.”

Maria Bautista, her niece, and Prioress of the

convent, displeased with the Saint s decision

with regard to a difficult family affair,

 

 

 

THE END OF SORROW 123

 

received her with marked coldness. She had

been one of the most devoted of daughters,

and Teresa s affectionate heart felt her

behaviour keenly. Little did the young

Prioress foresee that it was the last time that

she would see her holy Mother s face on earth,

or the bitter regret that her little fit of ill-

humour would cause her in the days to come.

As for Teresa, half dead with weariness

and pain, she went on without delay, her only

thought being to console her companions

in the discomforts they had to endure. At

night they reached a miserable inn, where

they could get no food. The Saint was faint

with weakness, and Sister Anne tried in vain

to get some eggs or something that an invalid

could eat. Nothing could be procured but

a few dried figs, which she brought to Teresa

weeping. ” Do not cry, dear sister,” said the

holy Mother; ” the figs are very good; many

poor people have not as much.” The next

day she was worse, and when she arrived at

Alba the Prioress and the nuns, shocked at

her appearance, made her go to bed at once.

Teresa smiled. ” It is true, my dear children,”

she said, ” that I am very tired, but I have

not been to bed so early for twenty years.”

Next day she arose in time for Mass and re-

 

 

 

124 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

ceived Holy Communion. For a few days

she insisted on following the community life,

but at last had to declare herself vanquished.

 

They put her in a little room that looked

on the chapel, where she lay and prayed in

a happy silence. She was near her Lord, and

that was all she desired. The sisters succeeded

each other before the altar, praying, praying

that God would spare that precious life; a

heavy sorrow lay like a pall upon the house.

 

In the sick-room a strange perfume ex

haled from the body of the dying Saint, all

the more wonderful because the doctors

had prescribed rubbing with an ill-smelling

oil which they hoped would relieve the pain.

Everybody who entered noticed it ; the whole

room was scented as with jasmine, lilies,

and roses. Teresa, who felt that the end

was near, asked for the last Sacraments.

 

It was five o clock in the afternoon, and

the last rays of the setting sun were lighting

up the shadows when they brought her the

Bread of Life. As she turned to greet her

Divine Lord, her face shone once more with

that radiant light that her daughters had so

often seen while she prayed; she was as one

transfigured, young and beautiful as of old.

“I die the faithful daughter of the Church,”

 

 

 

THE END OF SORROW 125

 

she said after asking pardon of those who were

present for all that might have given them

pain, and begging their prayers.

 

The night was spent in great suffering,

though not a murmur of complaint passed

her lips. At dawn, Sister Anne of St.

Bartholomew, knowing the Saint s love of

cleanliness, clothed her from head to foot in

spotless linen, and was thanked by a loving

and grateful smile. Lying on her side with

the Crucifix in her hand, Teresa remained

for the rest of the day, silent and motionless,

lost in a loving contemplation of her crucified

Lord. A supernatural beauty and joy shone

from her face; those who were near watched

her in an awestruck silence; such a chamber

of death seemed to them like the gate of

Heaven.

 

To Sister Anne, who had been Teresa s

faithful companion for so many years, the

thought of what life would be without her

brought an almost unbearable sorrow. As

towards evening she raised her tear-dimmed

eyes to pray for help and comfort, she beheld

in a vision our Lord surrounded with angels

looking down with loving glance upon Teresa,

as Sister Anne had seen Him stand and look

once before in the refectory at St. Joseph s.

 

 

 

126 LIFE OF ST. TERESA

 

As she gazed the burden of her grief grew

light; a divine consolation filled her heart,

and she turned once more towards the bed.

Even as she moved the Saint sighed once or

twice softly and entered into the life that is

eternal.

 

So died St. Teresa, and how can that

blessed passing be more eloquently described

than in the words of the Saint herself ?

 

” How sweet at the hour of death to go

before Him whom we have loved above all

things ! What happiness to think we are

not going to a strange country, but to our

own country, since it is to the home of that

adorable Spouse whom we love so much,

and by whom we are so much loved !”

 

 

 

 




7 thoughts on “The Life Of Saint Teresa by Francis Alice Forbes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *