Saint Teresa of Avila
- Category : Religion-Saint-Stigmatist
- Type : GP
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Penetration 1
Spanish author and religious leader. After spending a pleasant childhood with religious parents, she became a postulate in the Carmelite order at age 20. Her devotion increased when she had a period of illness and she began to experience voices and visions. She wrote that in the hands of a beautiful angel, he held "a large golden dart and at the end of the iron tip there appeared to be a little fire. It seemed to me this angel plunged the dart several times into my heart and that it reached deep within me. When he drew it out, I thought he was carrying off with him the deepest part of me, and he left me all on fire with great love of God. The pain was so great it made me moan, and the sweetness this greatest pain caused me was so superabundant that there is no desire capable of taking it away; nor is the soul content with less than God."
She founded a Spartan reformation order in 1556 and opened 16 missions. Feeling that the nuns had become too complacent and the nunneries little more than comfortable stations of retirement, she insisted on poverty, humility and chastity. In 1565, she wrote "The Interior Castle."
Teresa of Avila died on 10/04/1582 OS, Avila, Spain. Beatified in 1614, she was canonized in 1622.
Her heart has been meticulously preserved and kept on display in the Carmelite Church of Alba de Tormes. A surgeon in the late '60s wrote, "A transverse opening or gash can be noticed in the upper anterior quarter of the heart ... it penetrates the tissue and the ventricles.. . . . All along the wound can easily be seen traces of combustion." Three doctors from the University of Salamanca certify that the three hundred year old organ could not be preserved by any chemical product or even natural process. The "incorruptibility of the flesh," when a cadaver does not follow the natural laws of decay but remains fresh and firm, is considered one of the indications of sainthood.
Her fate after death nonetheless remains a gruesome tale. Sister Ana de San Bartolome recounts the story. "On July 4, 1583, nine months after her death, her coffin was opened. The lid was broken and the odor of humidity was very strong. Her holy body was covered by the earth that had fallen into the moldy coffin, but was as healthy and whole as if she had been buried the night before." But her perfect body did nor remain so for long, for exactly because of its condition and pleasant odor, various orders and churches literally tore away - in the literal meaning of the word - the limbs. Marcelle Auclair wrote, "The right foot and a portion of the upper jaw are in Rome, the left hand in Lisbon, and the right hand, left eye, fingers and shred of flesh are all over Spain and doubtless of Christendom."