Teresa of Avila, 16th Century Spanish Nun

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Teresa of Avila, the 16th century Spanish nun, was known not only for her conversations with God, but for carrying out his instructions. In 20 years, ailing but indomitable, and over the objections of jealous fellow nuns, threatened priests and outraged townspeople, Teresa founded 17 reformed nunneries.

This saint followed God’s orders with the savvy, determination and success of a modern day businesswoman. Not only was she pragmatic about her franchises, she was matter-of-fact about her extraordinary mystical experiences.

One of the best known images of Teresa, Bernini’s, “The Ecstasy of St. Teresa,” depicts her in spiritual ecstasy with her eyes closed, lips parted, hips raised.

Besides trances, Teresa was often seen levitating and her Carmelite sisters had strict orders to yank her down should she begin to float.

Teresa of Avila, saint and businesswoman, on this show.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Cathleen Medwick, author of “Teresa of Avila: The Progress of a Soul,” and Mary Luti.