St. Teresa was born in Avila on Wednesday, March 28, 1515. Her father was Don Alfonso Sanchez de Cepeda, and her mother Dona Beatriz Davila y Ahumada. The name she received in her baptism was common to both families, for her great-grandmother on the father's side was Teresa Sanchez, and her grandmother on her mother's side was Teresa de las Cuevas. While she remained in the world, and even after she had become a nun in the monastery of the Incarnation, which was under the mitigated rule, she was known as Dona Teresa Sanchez Cepeda Davila y Ahumada; for in those days children took the name either of the father or of the mother, as it pleased them. The two families were noble, but that of Ahumada was no longer in possession of its former wealth and power. Dona Beatriz was the second wife of Don Alfonso, and was related in the fourth degree to the first wife, as appears from the dispensation granted to make the marriage valid on the 16th of October, 1509. Of this marriage Teresa was the third child.
Dona Beatriz died young, and the eldest daughter, Maria de Cepeda, took charge of her younger sisters -- they were two -- and was as a second mother to them till her marriage, which took place in 1531, when the Saint was in her sixteenth year. But as she was too young to be left in charge of her father's house, and as her education was not finished, she was sent to the Augustinian monastery, the nuns of which received young girls, and brought them up in the fear of God. The Saint's own account is that she was too giddy and careless to be trusted at home, and that it was necessary to put her under the care of those who would watch over her and correct her ways. She remained a year and a half with the Augustinian nuns, and all the while God was calling her to Himself. She was not willing to listen to His voice; she would ask the nuns to pray for her that she might have light to see her way; |but for all this,| she writes, |I wished not to be a nun.| By degrees her will yielded, and she had some inclination to become a religious at the end of the eighteen months of her stay, but that was all. She became ill; her father removed her, and the struggle within herself continued, -- on the one hand, the voice of God calling her; on the other, herself labouring to escape from her vocation.
At last, after a struggle which lasted three months, she made up her mind, and against her inclination, to give up the world. She asked her father's leave, and was refused. She besieged him through her friends, but to no purpose. |The utmost I could get from him,| she says, |was that I might do as I pleased after his death.| How long this contest with her father lasted is not known, but it is probable that it lasted many months, for the Saint was always most careful of the feelings of others, and would certainly have endured much rather than displease a father whom she loved so much, and who also loved her more than his other children.
But she had to forsake her father, and so she left her father's house by stealth, taking with her one of her brothers, whom she had persuaded to give himself to God in religion. The brother and sister set out early in the morning, the former for the monastery of the Dominicans, and the latter for the Carmelite monastery of the Incarnation, in Avila. The nuns received her into the house, but sent word to her father of his child's escape. Don Alfonso, however, yielded at once, and consented to the sacrifice which he was compelled to make.
In the monastery of the Incarnation the Saint was led on, without her own knowledge, to states of prayer so high, that she became alarmed about herself. In the purity and simplicity of her soul, she feared that the supernatural visitations of God might after all be nothing else but delusions of Satan. She was so humble, that she could not believe graces so great could be given to a sinner like herself. The first person she consulted in her trouble seems to have been a layman, related to her family, Don Francisco de Salcedo. He was a married man, given to prayer, and a diligent frequenter of the theological lectures in the monastery of the Dominicans. Through him she obtained the help of a holy priest, Gaspar Daza, to whom she made known the state of her soul. The priest, hindered by his other labours, declined to be her director, and the Saint admits that she could have made no progress under his guidance. She now placed herself in the hands of Don Francis, who encouraged her in every way, and, for the purpose of helping her onwards in the way of perfection, told her of the difficulties he himself had met with, and how by the grace of God he had overcome them.
But when the Saint told him of the great graces which God bestowed upon her, Don Francis became alarmed; he could not reconcile them with the life the Saint was living, according to her own account. He never thought of doubting the Saint's account, and did not suspect her of exaggerating her imperfections in the depths of her humility: |he thought the evil spirit might have something to do| with her, and advised her to consider carefully her way of prayer.
Don Francis now applied again to Gaspar Daza, and the two friends consulted together; but, after much prayer on their part and on that of the Saint, they came to the conclusion that she |was deluded by an evil spirit,| and recommended her to have recourse to the fathers of the Society of Jesus, lately settled in Avila.
The Saint, now in great fear, but still hoping and trusting that God would not suffer her to be deceived, made preparations for a general confession; and committed to writing the whole story of her life, and made known the state of her soul to F. Juan de Padranos, one of the fathers of the Society. F. Juan understood it all, and comforted her by telling her that her way of prayer was sound and the work of God. Under his direction she made great progress, and for the further satisfaction of her confessor, and of Don Francis, who seems to have still retained some of his doubts, she told everything to St. Francis de Borja, who on one point changed the method of direction observed by F. Juan. That father recommended her to resist the supernatural visitations of the spirit as much as she could, but she was not able, and the resistance pained her; St. Francis told her she had done enough, and that it was not right to prolong that resistance.
The account of her life which she wrote before she applied to the Jesuits for direction has not been preserved; but it is possible that it was made more for her own security than for the purpose of being shown to her confessor.
The next account is Relation I., made for St. Peter of Alcantara, and was probably seen by many; for that Saint had to defend her, and maintain that the state of her soul was the work of God, against those who thought that she was deluded by Satan. Her own confessor was occasionally alarmed, and had to consult others, and thus, by degrees, her state became known to many; and there were some who, were so persuaded of her delusions, that they wished her to be exorcised as one possessed of an evil spirit, and at a later time her friends were afraid that she might be denounced to the Inquisitors.
During the troubles that arose when it became known that the Saint was about to found the monastery of St. Joseph, and therein establish the original rule of her Order in its primitive simplicity and austerity, she went for counsel to the Father Fra Pedro Ibanez, the Dominican, a most holy and learned priest. That father not only encouraged her, and commended her work, but also ordered her to give him in writing the story of her spiritual life. The Saint readily obeyed, and began it in the monastery of the Incarnation, and finished it in the house of Dona Luisa de la Cerda, in Toledo, in the month of June, 1562. On the 24th of August, the feast of St. Bartholomew, in the same year, the Reform of the Carmelites began in the new monastery of St. Joseph in Avila.
What the Saint wrote for Fra Ibanez has not been found. It is, no doubt, substantially preserved in her Life, as we have it now, and is supposed to have reached no further than the end of ch. xxxi. What follows was added by direction of another Dominican father, confessor of the Saint in the new monastery of St. Joseph, Fra Garcia of Toledo, who, in 1562, bade her |write the history of that foundation, and other matters.|
But as the Saint carried a heavy burden laid on her by God, a constant fear of delusion, she had recourse about the same time to the Inquisitor Soto, who advised her to write a history of her life, send it to Juan of Avila, the |Apostle of Andalucia,| and abide by his counsel. As the direction of Fra Garcia of Toledo and the advice of the Inquisitor must have been given, according to her account, about the same time, the Life, as we have it now, must have occupied her nearly six years in the writing of it, which may well be owing to her unceasing care in firmly establishing the new monastery of St. Joseph. The book at last was sent to Blessed Juan of Avila by her friend Dona Luisa de la Cerda, and that great master of the spiritual life wrote the following censure of it:
|The grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you always.
|1. When I undertook to read the book sent me, it was not so much because I thought myself able to judge of it, as because I thought I might, by the grace of our Lord, learn something from the teachings it contains: and praised be Christ; for, though I have not been able to read it with the leisure it requires, I have been comforted by it, and might have been edified by it, if the fault had not been mine. And although, indeed, I may have been comforted by it, without saying more, yet the respect due to the subject and to the person who has sent it will not allow me, I think, to let it go back without giving my opinion on it, at least in general.
|2. The book is not fit to be in the hands of everybody, for it is necessary to correct the language in some places, and explain it in others; and there are some things in it useful for your spiritual life and not so for others who might adopt them, for the special ways by which God leads some souls are not meant for others. These points, or the greater number of them, I have marked for the purpose of arranging them when I shall be able to do so, and I shall not fail to send them to you; for if you were aware of my infirmities and necessary occupations, I believe they would make you pity me rather than blame me for the omission.
|3. The doctrine of prayer is for the most part sound, and you may rely on it, and observe it; and the raptures I find to possess the tests of those which are true. What you say of God's way of teaching the soul, without respect to the imagination and without interior locutions, is safe, and I find nothing to object to it. St. Augustine speaks well of it.
|4. Interior locutions in these days have been a delusion of many, and exterior locutions are the least safe. It is easy enough to see when they proceed from ourselves, but to distinguish between those of a good and those of an evil spirit is more difficult. There are many rules given for finding out whether they come from our Lord or not, and one of them is, that they should be sent us in a time of need, or for some good end, as for the comforting a man under temptation or in doubt, or as a warning of coming danger. As a good man will not speak unadvisedly, neither will God; so, considering this, and that the locutions are agreeable to the holy writings and the teaching of the Church, my opinion is that the locutions mentioned in the book came from God.
|5. Imaginary or bodily visions are those which are most doubtful, and should in no wise be desired, and if they come undesired still they should be shunned as much as possible, yet not by treating them with contempt, unless it be certain that they come from an evil spirit; indeed, I was filled with horror, and greatly distressed, when I read of the gestures of contempt that were made. People ought to entreat our Lord not to lead them by the way of visions, but to reserve for them in Heaven the blessed vision of Himself and the saints, and to guide them here along the beaten path as He guides His faithful servants, and they must take other good measures for avoiding these visions.
|6. But if the visions continue after all this is done, and if the soul derives good from them, and if they do not lead to vanity, but deeper humility, and if the locutions be at one with the teaching the Church, and if they continue for any time, and that with inward satisfaction -- better felt than described -- there is no reason for avoiding them. But no one ought to rely on his own judgment herein; he should make everything known to him who can give him light. That is the universal remedy to be had recourse to in such matters, together with hope in God, Who will not let a soul that wishes to be safe lie under a delusion, if it be humble enough to yield obedience to the opinion of others.
|7. Nor should any one cause alarm by condemning them forthwith, because he sees that the person to whom they are granted is not perfect, for it is nothing new that our Lord in His goodness makes wicked people just, yea, even grievous sinners; by giving them to taste most deeply of His sweetness. I have seen it so myself. Who will set bounds to the goodness of our Lord? -- especially when these graces are given, not for merit, nor because one is stronger; on the contrary, they are given to one because he is weaker; and as they do not make one more holy, they are not always given to the most holy.
|8. They are unreasonable who disbelieve these things merely because they are most high things, and because it seems to them incredible that infinite Majesty humbles Himself to these loving relations with one of His creatures. It is written, God is love, and if He is love, then infinite love and infinite goodness, and we must not be surprised if such a love and such a goodness breaks out into such excesses of love as disturb those who know nothing of it. And though many know of it by faith, still, as to that special experience of the loving, and more than loving, converse of God with whom He will, if not had, how deep it reaches can never be known; and so I have seen many persons scandalized at hearing of what God in His love does for His creatures. As they are themselves very far away from it, they cannot think that God will do for others what He is not doing for them. As this is an effect of love, and that a love which causes wonder, reason requires we should look upon it as a sign of its being from God, seeing that He is wonderful in His works, and most especially in those of his compassion; but they take occasion from this to be distrustful, which should have been a ground of confidence, when other circumstances combine as evidences of these visitations being good.
|9. It seems from the book, I think, that you have resisted, and even longer than was right. I think, too, that these locutions have done your soul good, and in particular that they have made you see your own wretchedness and your faults more clearly, and amend them. They have lasted long, and always with spiritual profit. They move you to love God, and to despise yourself, and to do penance. I see no reasons for condemning them, I incline rather to regard them as good, provided you are careful not to rely altogether on them, especially if they are unusual, or bid you do something out of the way, or are not very plain. In all these and the like cases you must withhold your belief in them, and at once seek for direction.
|10. Also it should be considered that, even if they do come from God, Satan may mix with them suggestions of his own; you should therefore be always suspicious of them. Also, when they are known to be from God, men must not rest much on them, seeing that holiness does not lie in them, but in a humble love of God and our neighbour; everything else, however good, must be feared, and our efforts directed to the gaining of humility, goodness, and the love of our Lord. It is seemly, also, not to worship what is seen in these visions, but only Jesus Christ, either as in Heaven or in the Sacrament, or, if it be a vision of the Saints, then to lift up the heart to the Holy One in Heaven, and not to that which is presented to the imagination: let it suffice that the imagination may be made use of for the purpose of raising me up to that which it makes me see.
|11. I say, too, that the things mentioned in this book befall other persons even in this our day, and that there is great certainty that they come from God, Whose arm is not shortened that He cannot do now what He did in times past, and that in weak vessels, for His own glory.
|12. Go on your road, but always suspecting robbers, and asking for the right way; give thanks to our Lord, Who has given you His love, the knowledge of yourself, and a love of penance and the cross, making no account of these other things. However, do not despise them either, for there are signs that most of them come from our Lord, and those that do not come from Him will not hurt you if you ask for direction.
|13. I cannot believe that I have written this in my own strength, for I have none, but it is the effect of your prayers. I beg of you, for the love of Jesus Christ our Lord, to burden yourself with a prayer for me; He knows that I am asking this in great need, and I think that is enough to make you grant my request. I ask your permission to stop now, for I am bound to write another letter. May Jesus be glorified in all and by all! Amen.
|Your servant, for Christ's sake.
|Juan de Avila
|Montilla, 12th Sept., 1568.|
Her confessors, having seen the book, |commanded her to make copies of it,| one of which has been traced into the possession of the Duke and Duchess of Alva.
The Princess of Eboli, in 1569, obtained a copy from the Saint herself, after much importunity; but it was more out of vanity or curiosity, it is to be feared, than from any real desire to learn the story of the Saint's spiritual life, that the Princess desired the boon. She and her husband promised to keep it from the knowledge of others, but the promise given was not kept. The Saint heard within a few days later that the book was in the hands of the servants of the Princess, who was angry with the Saint because she had refused to admit, at the request of the Princess, an Augustinian nun into the Order of Carmel in the new foundation of Pastrana. The contents of the book were bruited abroad, and the visions and revelations of the Saint were said to be of a like nature with those of Magdalene of the Cross, a deluded and deluding nun. The gossip in the house of the Princess was carried to Madrid, and the result was that the Inquisition began to make a search for the book. It is not quite clear, however, that it was seized at this time.
The Princess became a widow in July, 1573, and insisted on becoming a Carmelite nun in the house she and her husband, Ruy Gomez, had founded in Pastrana. When the news of her resolve reached the monastery, the mother-prioress, Isabel of St. Dominic, exclaimed, |The Princess a nun! I look on the house as ruined.| The Princess came, and insisted on her right as foundress; she had compelled a friar to give her the habit before her husband was buried, and when she came to Pastrana she began her religious life by the most complete disobedience and disregard of common propriety. Don Vicente's description of her is almost literally correct, though intended only for a general summary of her most childish conduct:
|On the death of the Prince of Eboli, the Princess would become a nun in her monastery of Pastrana. The first day she had a fit of violent fervour; on the next she relaxed the rule; on the third she broke it, and conversed with secular people within the cloisters. She was also so humble that she required the nuns to speak to her on their knees, and insisted upon their receiving into the house as religious whomsoever she pleased. Hereupon complaints were made to St. Teresa, who remonstrated with the Princess, and showed her how much she was in the wrong, whereupon she replied that the monastery was hers; but the Saint proved to her that the nuns were not, and had them removed to Segovia.|
The nuns were withdrawn from Pastrana in April, 1574, and then the anger of the Princess prevailed; she sent the Life of the Saint, which she had still in her possession, to the Inquisition, and denounced it as a book containing visions, revelations, and dangerous doctrines, which the Inquisitors should look into and examine: The book was forthwith given to theologians for examination, and two Dominican friars, of whom Banes was one, were delegated censors of it by the Inquisition.
Fra Banes did not know the Saint when he undertook her defence in Avila against the authorities of the city, eager to destroy the monastery of St. Joseph; but from that time forth he was one of her most faithful friends, strict and even severe, as became a wise director who had a great Saint for his penitent. He testifies in the process of her beatification that he was firm and sharp with her; while she herself was the more desirous of his counsel, the more he humbled her, and the less he appeared to esteem her. When he found that copies of her life were in the hands of secular people, -- he had probably also heard of the misconduct of the Princess of Eboli, -- he showed his displeasure to the Saint, and told her he would burn the book, it being unseemly that the writings of women should be made public. The Saint left it in his hands, but Fra Banes, struck with her humility, had not the courage to burn it; he sent it to the Holy Office in Madrid. Thus the book was in a sense denounced twice, -- once by an enemy, the second time by a friend, to save it. Both the Saint and her confessor, Fra Banes, state that the copy given up by the latter was sent to the Inquisition in Madrid, and Fra Banes says so twice in his deposition. The Inquisitor Soto returned the copy to Fra Banes, desiring him to read it, and give his opinion thereon. Fra Banes did so, and wrote his |censure| of the book on the blank leaves at the end. That censure still remains, and is one of the most important, because given during the lifetime of the Saint, and while many persons were crying out against her. Banes wished it had been published when the Saint's Life was given to the world by Fra Luis de Leon; but notwithstanding its value, and its being preserved in the book which is in the handwriting of the Saint, no one before Don Vicente made it known. It was easy enough to praise the writings of St. Teresa, and to admit her sanctity, after her death. Fra Banes had no external help in the applause of the many, and he had to judge the book as a theologian, and the Saint as one of his ordinary penitents. When he wrote, he wrote like a man whose whole life was spent, as he tells us himself, |in lecturing and disputing.|
That censure is as follows:
|1. This book, wherein Teresa of Jesus, Carmelite nun, and foundress of the Barefooted Carmelites, gives a plain account of the state of her soul, in order to be taught and directed by her confessors, has been examined by me, and with much attention, and I have not found anywhere in it anything which, in my opinion, is erroneous in doctrine. On the contrary, there are many things in it highly edifying and instructive for those who give themselves to prayer. The great experience of this religious, her discretion also and her humility, which made her always seek for light and learning in her confessors, enabled her to speak with an accuracy on the subject of prayer that the most learned men, through their want of experience, have not always attained to. One thing only there is about the book that may reasonably cause any hesitation till it shall be very carefully examined; it contains many visions and revelations, matters always to be afraid of, especially in women, who are very ready to believe of them that they come from God, and to look on them as proofs of sanctity, though sanctity does not lie in them. On the contrary, they should be regarded as dangerous trials for those who are aiming at perfection, because Satan is wont to transform himself into an angel of light, and to deceive souls which are curious and of scant humility, as we have seen in our day: nevertheless, we must not therefore lay down a general rule that all revelations and visions come from the devil. If it were so, St. Paul could not have said that Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, if the angel of light did not sometimes enlighten us.
|2. Saints, both men and women, have had revelations, not only in ancient, but also in modern times; such were St. Dominic, St. Francis, St. Vincent Ferrer, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Gertrude, and many others that might be named; and as the Church of God is, and is to be, always holy to the end, not only because her profession is holiness, but because there are in her just persons and perfect in holiness, it is unreasonable to despise visions and revelations, and condemn them in one sweep, seeing they are ordinarily accompanied with much goodness and a Christian life. On the contrary, we should follow the saying of the Apostle in 1 Thess. v.19-22: 'Spiritum nolite extinguere. Prophetias nolite spernere. Omnia [autem] probate: quod bonum est tenete. Ab omni specie mala abstinete vos.' He who will read St. Thomas on that passage will see how carefully they are to be examined who, in the Church of God, manifest any particular gift that may be profitable or hurtful to our neighbour, and how watchful the examiners ought to be lest the fire of the Spirit of God should be quenched in the good, and others cowed in the practices of the perfect Christian life.
|3. Judging by the revelations made to her, this woman, even though she may be deceived in something, is at least not herself a deceiver, because she tells all the good and the bad so simply, and with so great a wish to be correct, that no doubt can be made as to her good intention; and the greater the reason for trying spirits of this kind, because there are persons in our day who are deceivers with the appearance of piety, the more necessary it is to defend those who, with the appearance, have also the reality, of piety. For it is a strange thing to see how lax and worldly people delight in seeing those discredited who have an appearance of goodness. God complained of old, by the Prophet Ezekiel, ch. xiii., of those false prophets who made the just to mourn and who flattered sinners, saying: 'Maerere fecisti cor justi mendaciter, quem Ego non contristavi: et comfortastis manus impii.' In a certain sense this may be said of those who frighten souls who are going on by the way of prayer and perfection, telling them that this way is singular and full of danger, that many who went by it have fallen into delusions, and that the safest way is that which is plain and common, travelled by all.
|4. Words of this kind, clearly, sadden the hearts of those who would observe the counsels of perfection in continual prayer, so far as it is possible for them, and in much fasting, watching, and disciplines; and, on the other hand, the lax and the wicked take courage and lose the fear of God, because they consider the way on which they are travelling as the safer: and this is their delusion, -- they call that a plain and safe road which is the absence of the knowledge and consideration of the dangers and precipices amidst which we are all of us journeying in this world. Nevertheless, there is no other security than that which lies in our knowing our daily enemies, and in humbly imploring the compassion of God, if we would not be their prisoners. Besides, there are souls whom God, in a way, constrains to enter on the way of perfection, and who, if they relaxed in their fervour, could not keep a middle course, but would immediately fall into the other extreme of sins, and for souls of this kind it is of the utmost necessity that they should watch and pray without ceasing; and, in short, there is nobody whom lukewarmness does not injure. Let every man examine his own conscience, and he will find this to be the truth.
|5. I firmly believe that if God for a time bears with the lukewarm, it is owing to the prayers of the fervent, who are continually crying, 'et ne nos inducas in tentationem.' I have said this, not for the purpose of honouring those whom we see walking in the way of contemplation; for it is another extreme into which the world falls, and a covert persecution of goodness, to pronounce those holy forthwith who have the appearance of it. For that would be to furnish them with motives for vain-glory, and would do little honour to goodness; on the contrary, it would expose it to great risks, because, when they fall who have been objects of praise, the honour of goodness suffers more than if those people had not been so esteemed. And so I look upon this exaggeration of their holiness who are still living in the world to be a temptation of Satan. That we should have a good opinion of the servants of God is most just, but let us consider them always as people in danger, however good they may be, and that their goodness is not so evident that we can be sure of it even now.
|6. Considering myself that what I have said is true, I have always proceeded cautiously in the examination of this account of the prayer and life of this nun, and no one has been more incredulous than myself as to her visions and revelations, -- not so, however as to her goodness and her good desires, for herein I have had great experience of her truthfulness, her obedience, mortification, patience, and charity towards her persecutors, and of her other virtues, which any one who will converse with her will discern; and this is what may be regarded as a more certain proof of her real love of God than these visions and revelations. I do not, however, undervalue her visions, revelations, and ecstasies; on the contrary, I suspect them to be the work of God, as they have been in others who were Saints. But in this case it is always safer to be afraid and wary; for if she is confident about them, Satan will take occasion to interfere, and that which was once, perhaps, the work of God, may be changed into something else, and that will be the devil's.
|7. I am of opinion that this book is not to be shown to every one, but only to men of learning, experience, and Christian discretion. It perfectly answers the purpose for which it was written, namely, that the nun should give an account of the state of her soul to those who had the charge of it, in order that she might not fall into delusions. Of one thing I am very sure, so far as it is possible for a man to be, -- she is not a deceiver; she deserves, therefore, for her sincerity, that all should be favourable to her in her good purposes and good works. For within the last thirteen years she has, I believe, founded a dozen monasteries of Barefooted Carmelite nuns, the austerity and perfection of which are exceeded by none other; of which they who have been visitors of them, as the Dominican Provincial, master in theology, Fra Pedro Fernandez, the master Fra Hernando del Castillo, and many others, speak highly. This is what I think, at present, concerning the censure of this book, submitting my judgment herein to that of Holy Church our mother, and her ministers.
|Given in the College of St. Gregory, Valladolid, on the sixth day of July, 1575.
|Fra Domingo Banes.|
The book remained in the keeping of the Inquisition, and the Saint never saw it again. But she heard of it from the Archbishop of Toledo, Cardinal Quiroga, President of the Supreme Court of the Inquisition, when she applied to him for license to found a monastery in Madrid. Jerome of the Mother of God was with her; and heard the Cardinal's reply. His Eminence said he was glad to see her; that a book of hers had been in the Holy Office for some years, and had been rigorously examined; that he had read it himself, and regarded it as containing sound and wholesome doctrine. He would grant the license, and do whatever he could for the Saint. When she heard this, she wished to present a petition to the Inquisition for the restitution of her book; but Gratian thought it better to apply to the Duke of Alba for the copy which he had, and which the Inquisitors had allowed him to retain and read. The Duke gave his book to Fra Jerome, who had copies of it made for the use of the monasteries both of men and women.
Anne of Jesus, in 1586, founding a monastery of her Order in Madrid, -- the Saint had died in 1582, -- made inquiries about the book, and applied to the Inquisition for it, for she was resolved to publish the writings of her spiritual mother. The Inquisitors made no difficulty, and consented to the publication. In this she was seconded by the Empress Maria, daughter of Charles V., and widow of Maximilian II., who had obtained one of the copies which Fra Jerome of the Mother of God had ordered to be made. Fra Nicholas Doria, then Provincial, asked Fra Luis de Leon, the Augustinian, to edit the book, who consented. He was allowed to compare the copy furnished him with the original in the keeping of the Inquisition; but his edition has not been considered accurate, notwithstanding the facilities given him, and his great reverence for the Saint. It was published in Salamanca, A.D.1588.
With the Life of the Saint, Fra Luis de Leon received certain papers in the handwriting of the Saint, which he published as an additional chapter. Whether he printed all he received, or merely made extracts, may be doubtful, but anyhow that chapter is singularly incomplete. Don Vicente de la Fuente, from whose edition (Madrid, 1861, 1862) this translation has been made, omitted the additional chapter of Fra Luis de Leon, contrary to the practice of his predecessors. But he has done more, for he has traced the paragraphs of that chapter to their sources, and has given us now a collection of papers which form almost another Life of the Saint, to which he has given their old name of Relations, the name which the Saint herself had given them. Some of them are usually printed among the Saint's letters, and portions of some of the others are found in the Lives of the Saint written by Ribera and Yepes, and in the Chronicle of the Order; the rest was published for the first time by Don Vicente: the arrangement of the whole is due to him.
The Relations are ten in the Spanish edition, and eleven in the translation. The last, the eleventh, has hitherto been left among the letters, and Don Vicente, seemingly not without some hesitation, so left it; but as it is of the like nature with the Relations, it has now been added to them.
The original text, in the handwriting of the Saint, is preserved in the Escurial, not in the library, but among the relics of the Church. Don Vicente examined it at his leisure, and afterwards found in the National Library in Madrid an authentic and exact transcript of it, made by order of Ferdinand VI. His edition is, therefore, far better than any of its predecessors; but it is possible that even now there may still remain some verbal errors for future editors to correct. The most conscientious diligence is not a safeguard against mistakes. F. Bouix says that in ch. xxxiv. section 12, the reading of the original differs from that of the printed editions; yet Don Vicente takes no notice of it, and retains the common reading. It is impossible to believe that F. Bouix has stated as a fact that which is not. Again, in ch. xxxix. section 29, the printed editions have after the words, |Thou art Mine, and I am thine,| |I am in the habit. . . sincerity;| but Don Vicente omits them. This may have been an oversight, for in general he points out in his notes all the discrepancies between the printed editions and the original text.
A new translation of the Life of St. Teresa seems called for now, because the original text has been collated since the previous translations were made, and also because those translations are exceedingly scarce. The first is believed to be this -- it is a small quarto:
|The Lyf of the Mother Teresa of Jesus, Foundresse of the Monasteries of the Discalced or Bare-footed Carmelite Nunnes and Fryers of the First Rule.
|Written by herself at the commaundement of her ghostly father, and now translated into English out of Spanish. By W.M., of the Society of Jesus.
|Imprinted in Antwerp by Henry Jaye. Anno MDCXI.|
Some thirty years afterwards, Sir Tobias Matthew, S.J., dissatisfied, as he says, with the former translation, published another, with the following title; the volume is a small octavo in form:
|The Flaming Hart, or the Life of the glorious St. Teresa, Foundresse of the Reformation of the Order of the All-Immaculate Virgin Mother, our B. Lady of Mount Carmel.
|This History of her Life was written by the Saint in Spanish, and is newly translated into English in the year of our Lord God 1642.
'Aut mori aut pati:
Either to dye or else to suffer.' -- Chap. xl.
|Antwerpe, printed by Joannes Meursius. Anno MDCXLII.|
The next translation was made by Abraham Woodhead, and published in 1671, without the name of the translator, or of the printer, or of the place of publication. It is in quarto, and bears the following title:
|The Life of the Holy Mother St. Teresa, Foundress of the Reformation of the Discalced Carmelites according to the Primitive Rule. Printed in the year MDCLXXI.|
It is not said that the translation was made from the Spanish, and there are grounds for thinking it to have been made from the Italian. Ch. xxxii. is broken off at the end of section 10; and ch. xxxiii., therefore, is ch. xxxvii. That which is there omitted has been thrown into the Book of the Foundations, which, in the translation of Mr. Woodhead, begins with section 11 of ch. xxxii. of the Life, as it also does in the Italian translation. It is due, however, to Mr. Woodhead to say that he has printed five of the Relations separately, not as letters, but as what they really are, and with that designation.
The last translation is that of the Very Reverend John Dalton, Canon of Northampton, which is now, though twice published, almost as scarce as its predecessors. The title is:
|The Life of St. Teresa, written by herself, and translated from the Spanish by the Rev. John Dalton. London, MDCCCLI.|
1. Fr. Anton. a St. Joseph, in his note on letter 16, but letter 41, vol. iv. ed. Doblado.
2. Reforma de los Descalcos. lib. i. ch. vii. section 3.
3. Ch. iii. section 2.
4. Ch. iii. section 9.
5. Ch. i. section 3.
6. Ch. xxiii. section 2.
7. Ch. xxiii. section 8.
8. Id. section 12.
9. Ch. xxiv. section 1.
10. Id. section 4.
11. Ch. xxix. section 4.
12. Ch. xxxiii. section 6.
13. The Saint held him in great reverence, and in one of her letters -- lett.355, but lett.100, vol. ii. ed. Doblado -- calls him a founder of her Order, because of the great services he had rendered her, and told her nuns of Seville that they need not be veiled in his presence, though they must be so in the presence of everybody else, and even the friars of the Reform.
14. See Life, ch. xxix. section 6.
15. Rel. vii. section 9.
16. Reforma de los Descalcos, lib. ii. c. xxviii. section 6.
17. Introduccion al libro de la Vida, vol. i. p.3.
18. Jerome Gratian, Lucidario, c. iv.
19. Life, ch. xxxvi. section 15.
20. The Saint says of herself, Rel. vii. section 18, that |she took the greatest pains not to submit the state of her soul to any one who she thought would believe that these things came from God, for she was instantly afraid that the devil would deceive them both.|
21. Rel. vii. section 16.
22. |Como hombre criado toda mi vida en leer y disputar| (De la Fuente, ii. p.376).
23.2 Cor. xi.14: |Ipse enim Satanas transfigurat se in angelum lucis.|
24. The other theologian appointed by the Inquisition, with Fra Banes, to examine the |Life.|
25. This took place in the year 1580, according to the Chronicler of the Order (Reforma de los Descalcos, lib. v. c. xxxv. section 4); and the Bollandists (n.1536) accept his statement. Fra Jerome says he was Provincial of his Order at the time; and as he was elected only on the 4th of March, 1581, according to the Chronicler and the Bollandists, it is more likely that the audience granted to them by the Cardinal took place in 1581.
26. Reforma de los Descalcos, lib. v. c. xxxiv. section 4: |Relaciones de su espiritu.|
27. Rel. ii. section 18.