I’ve been feeding my Teresa of Avila addiction with a number of books lately. This one is a brand new novel titled Sister Teresa: The Woman Who Became Saint Teresa of Avila, by Barbara Mujica.
Having read a number of biographies, written over the centuries, of Teresa, I found this novel to be the best of the bunch. All of the material in the biographies is here, presented by a master storyteller. Teresa’s temper, her arrogance, her social butterfly behaviors are not glossed over as the biographies often do. And the daily miracles often not presented in biographies, because they aren’t scientific, are here as well. Her raptures, often happening at inopportune times, when the nuns would sit on her to keep her from floating.
Her businesslike approach to being an administrator over the more than 17 convents she founded, her participation in the daily work, her starving and scourging herself for her Bridegroom, her smartness, her occasional silliness, her illnesses, her deep spirituality – all included, all part of her complexity. The novel format gives us a chance to see Teresa whole, to experience the 16th century Spanish life she lived.
Skip the biographies – to really know Teresa, read this book.
P. S. I still argue with her – but had fun getting to know this side of her life.