During her lifetime St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) captivated just about everyone she met by her wit, sanity, courage, intelligence, simplicity, humility, charm, and power; today she continues to delight people by her wonderful combination of holy madness and huge common sense. In these pages William Thomas Walsh has written a masterful biography of this remarkable woman who was a mystic and foundress, the reformer of Carmel, a doctor of the science of divine love, and now, proclaimed in 1970, a Doctor of the Universal Church. Using her own writings and other original sources, he has successfully described her incredible spiritual drama, the prodigious activities of her life, and the historical setting in which she lived.
He recounts St. Teresa's years of resisting complete self-surrender to God before finally entering with undivided will on the way of perfection; of her terrible anguish over the Lutheran heretics falling into Hell and of the grievous penances and sacrifices she undertook for their conversion; of her many adventures in opening up house after house of cloistered contemplative nuns as places where God-"His Majesty"- could be served; of her great love for poverty and asceticism; of her dealings with St. Peter of Alcantara, St. John of the Cross, King Philip II, and many other notable people of the day; of the false and diabolical mysticisms current at the time, which brought down suspicion upon her own visions and revelations; of her terrible uncertainties regarding her own mystical experiences; and of the trials she underwent in finding confessors to understand and guide her soul. He also describes her famous writings on prayer and on the spiritual life-which are of such surpassing clarity and energy that Pope St. Pius X (1903-1914) wrote of her: "What the Fathers of the Church taught without system and confusedly, this virgin Teresa, has reduced with such mastery and elegance to a body of doctrine."
In this book William Thomas Walsh's chief sources have been St. Teresa's own letters, her treatises, her Life, The Way of Perfection, depositions of witnesses for her beatification and canonization, and the work of her contemporary biographers, especially Ribera and Yepes. Likely no hagiographer has ever had such command of the historical background of a saint. For altogether, William Thomas Walsh has presented her another masterpiece, and what is undoubtedly the finest life of St. Teresa of Avila ever written in English- a picture of one of the greatest saints of the Church and one of the most appealing women of all time.
Paperback: 616 pages
Publisher: Tan Books