The Avila of St Teresa
Despite having been back from Spain for over a week, I'm rather behind in posting about some of the places we visited. I won't bore you with too many details.
Avila was our first stop. I had been before, but had not visited the Convent of La Encarnación, where St Teresa lived for 29 years (she is, of course, not buried at Avila but at Alba de Torres, where she died in 1582). We said Mass in the beautiful Chapel of the Transverberation, near the spot where an angel appeared to the saint holding a 'long golden spear,' with a point of fire at the end. 'With this,' St Teresa later recalled, 'he seemed to pierce my heart several times so that it penetrated to my entrails.' This event was celebrated in Bernini's sculpture in Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome. St Teresa's heart was exeamined in 1872 and the marks left by the angelic spear could clearly be seen.
In the museum at the Convent, we could see various relics. Most famous, perhaps, is the drawing of the Crucifixion made by St John of the Cross, showing a rare understanding of perspective (for the times). It inspired Salvador Dali's painting of the Crucifixion:
St Teresa loved music and some of the instruments she might have used were on display - a sort of sixteenth century Hispanic folk group:
St Teresa was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970 - the first woman to be this designated. The Spanish celebrated by making a doctoral gown and cap for her (seen here on the right):
The saint is always associated with her confessor and fellow reformer, St John of the Cross. One thing I hadn't picked up before was just how short he was - just under 5 foot tall. Indeed, St Teresa called him 'half a monk.' With this in mind, this picture of him levitating as he counsels St Teresa is not without significance.