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Teresa of Ávila (1515–82)

Siobhán Garrigan

Subject Religion » Christianity

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1500-1599

Key-Topics Reformation, The, theology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405135078.2009.00035.x


Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada, who in later life signed herself Teresa de Jesús, and whom we know today as Teresa of Ávila, was born on March 24, 1515. She arrived into a large, loving household headed by her merchant father and her noblewoman mother. They lived in a fine residence with courtyard gardens inside the huge walls of the city of Ávila and were deeply respected in the local community, despite her father's opposition to his neighbors' habit of keeping of slaves. Like the daughters of many wealthy families in Castile, Teresa was taught to read and write (Spanish, but not Latin) and was influenced greatly by the reading material available in the family home. Her mother's collection of what might be termed “light” reading was dominated by tales of the chivalrous deeds of the knights at court and this provided Teresa with her early “damsel” narratives, the acting-out of which resulted in her being boarded in an Augustinian convent by her father from the age of 16 to 18. Her father's collection of devotional and theological books laid the foundations for Teresa's subsequent turn to the religious life, which culminated in her entering a Carmelite convent against her father's wishes at the age of 20 and staying there, apart from treatment for illness or when she was traveling to start up new convents, for the rest of her life. The story of Teresa of Ávila is, then, the story of ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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