Features

Teresa of Avila: In the footsteps of a saint Premium

01 December 2016 | by Catherine Pepinster

 

Pilgrims who set out to follow the extensive journeys across Spain of this remarkable saint, mystic and reformer are discovering the legacy of a dogged, enterprising woman

there is a  pomegranate tree growing in the garden of the Carmelite monastery in Toledo. As we look out across the city to the mountains, we pluck and eat fruits rich with symbolism. For medieval Christians like Teresa of Ávila the pomegranate represented resurrection and eternal life. “Thy plants are a paradise of pomegranates with the fruits of the orchard”, Teresa wrote in one of her poems, echoing the Song of Songs.

To enclosed nuns and monks of the Carmelite order the garden was a place for domestic tasks and relaxation in the heat of the Spanish day, but it also represented a return to the lost ideal of the garden of Eden, the original paradise. And as Teresa of Ávila set about reforming the Carmelite order in sixteenth-century Spain she may well have thought of another garden – Mount Carmel, where Elijah’s followers lived as prophets. The mount’s Hebrew name was Hakkarmel, which means the orchard or garden.

So it seemed appropriate to pause awhile in the Toledo garden and contemplate the remarkable life and work of a woman who, with determination and conviction, defied her father, challenged her Carmelite superiors, faced down the anti-Semites who murmured about her Jewish roots, stood up to the Inquisition, and pragmatically worked with the influential and wealthy to fund her life’s work. And all this took place amid the religious turmoil of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation.





Subscribe now and enjoy access to all parts of the tablet website, Including its 175 year archive...
Subscribe


Article List


TABLET WORLD…
Latest Issue

Digital/PDF Version

PDF version (iPad-friendly)

Previous Issues
Latest Tweet
Most Read Articles

Both sides in Amoris Laetitia debate are right, says Cardinal Müller19 October 2017 by Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

Pro Francis theologians start petition in support of Pope following 'filial correction' 18 October 2017 by Christopher Lamb

German bishops abandon controversial Missal translation09 October 2017 by Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

Changing minds and hearts: the basic moral test of a society and its laws is the treatment of human life at its most vulnerablePremium18 October 2017 by John Wilson

The book of the people: the laity were reading the scriptures before 1517Premium18 October 2017 by Thomas Kaufmann

When realities collide: A pro-life activist suggests a change of direction for those campaigning for the abolition of the Abortion ActPremium18 October 2017 by Rebecca Bratten Weiss

Both sides in Amoris Laetitia debate are right, says Cardinal Müller19 October 2017 by Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

Pro Francis theologians start petition in support of Pope following 'filial correction' 18 October 2017 by Christopher Lamb

German bishops abandon controversial Missal translation09 October 2017 by Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

Changing minds and hearts: the basic moral test of a society and its laws is the treatment of human life at its most vulnerablePremium18 October 2017 by John Wilson

The book of the people: the laity were reading the scriptures before 1517Premium18 October 2017 by Thomas Kaufmann

When realities collide: A pro-life activist suggests a change of direction for those campaigning for the abolition of the Abortion ActPremium18 October 2017 by Rebecca Bratten Weiss

Share Us
Tablet Subscription

Manage my subcription here

Manage
Newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter

Sign Up
Top