I met Teresa of Avila during my upbringing in an Irish Catholic school. She sounded pretty tedious and grim – but then all of the saints did.
I got re-acquainted with her early on in my conscious spiritual path. Our relationship has never been easy. I argue almost all the time with her beliefs and actions. Why, for instance, would she believe that flailing herself with a small whip would be a good thing from her Bridegroom’s / Christ’s point of view?
Surely she could have thought her way through that differently, could have gotten to ecstasy some other way.
There are now 2 new books out featuring Teresa. One is a fictionalized account of her life: Sister Teresa – The Woman Who Became Saint Teresa of Avila, by Barbara Mujica. The other is by excellent spiritual teacher Caroline Myss, who has put Teresa’s Interior Castle into modern understanding as Entering the Castle – Finding the Inner Path to God and Your Soul’s Purpose.
I’ve started with the fictional bio, having read several previous biographies from several time periods. It’s a good picture of Spain in the 16th century, including its treatment of women – and the pluses and minuses of marriage and the convent. Those were the only 2 choices easily available for upperclass women.
I’ll keep you posted as fresh arguments break out between me and T.