Sunday, October 11, 2009

Teresa of Avila

Last evening I watched episodes of the Spanish film Teresa de Jesus, produced in 1984 as a mini-series for Spanish television.  It is an absolute jewel of a film and the saint is magnificently portrayed by the Spanish actress Concha Velasca, who I think bears a remarkable resemblance to Teresa.  The series is faithful to the writings of St. Teresa which, if one is familiar with them, one recognizes the scenes or recalls her wonderful descriptive prose describing the events and the persons involved, not to mention her teaching on prayer.  Watching this film is the next best thing to actually being  present with her in these circumstances.  The historical accuracy is incredible for a theatrical production.  One of the most edifying aspects of the series is how it traces Teresa's conversion story - she is a wonderful saint for sinners.

Last evening I watched the episode which included her friendship with a wayward priest, to whom she made her confessions and sought guidance.  (Read Peers translation here - Chapter 5 of Autobiography.)  I was touched by her charity and reverence for his supernatural vocation despite her knowledge of his infidelities.  It was through her friendship with the the priest that he was able to break free of an adulterous affair.  The lesson was well taken, and hopefully from now on I may follow suit and become less chastening in my remarks concerning errant clergy.

St. Teresa's feast day is this Thursday, October 15.  If you haven't read her, try to do so - I found her Autobiography to be the best place to start - it contains excellent teaching on prayer.  Her style is easy to understand.  I think the very best translation of her work has been done by the Institute of Carmelite Studies.  Her Life (Autobiography) is available in Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, Vol. I through
Art:  Communion of St. Teresa, Claudio Coello.  St. Peter of Alcantara giving communion to St. Teresa of Avila.  Source - I had copies of paintings done by this company before - their work is excellent - perfect hand painted copies of the original at very modest prices.     


  1. I'v always kind of resisted her thinking she was too intellectual but you have encouraged me. I am devoted to those who share her name - St. Therese of Lisiuex and Mother Teresa - so getting to know their namesake might be spiritually profitable!

  2. Angela - St. Teresa is not too intellectual at all - in fact she is really enjoyable to read - she is very simple. Years ago I had a hard time reading the Autobiography - I had only read the Way of Perfection before that - but I eventually got accustomed to her style - she digresses all the time - so it is not a normal biography at all.

  3. First time I have seen this film was during my novitiate year with the Discalced Carmelites (Carmelites reformed by Madre Teresa de Jesus). Although our Lord did not call me to be a Carmelite, I still love watching this movie (have seen it numerous times then) and still have affinity with Carmelite spirituality.
    Terry, I am interested how can I get a copy of the painting or poster.

  4. Fr. Gary - cool - I tried my vocatiopn - years ago now - with the OCD in the Southwest Province. As regards a copy of the painting, click on 'Source' in the Art section of the post and you will come to 'Ocean's Bridge' it is the company where you can have a repro painted - otherwise I do not know where you might get a reproduction of the painting.

  5. I was with the OCD Western Province circa 1998-99.

  6. We watched the "Teresa of Avila" on Saturday night, also.
    I'm reading her "Autobiography" now and it's very inspiring and encouraging.
    I've read her other works, but found the "Autobiography" difficult until now.
    Thanks for the post.

  7. Fr. - I'm reading it too.


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