A short recount of the life of St. Teresa up until the writing of The Book of Her Life



*Received as a postulant in the Carmelite Monastery of the Incarnation, Avila in 1536 and as a novice in 1537. She is 21 years old.

*At this time there was no practice of mental prayer in the monastery where she is nor is there a required time for personal prayer; it mostly consists of the Divine Office & Mass.

*Nonetheless, St. Teresa is naturally drawn to the spiritual life and does have a life of prayer at this time.


*This is a significant year in the life of St. Teresa because she reads the book of Fr. Francisco de Osuna, The Third Spiritual Alphabet, which speaks about the prayer of recollection.

*Reading spiritual books helps her much in prayer at this time, though she was ill.  (She has gone to a small town, Beceda, with one of the Nuns).

*She begins to teach about prayer to others.


St. Teresa returns to the Incarnation – the illness has left her paralyzed.

*Uses this time of recollection for solitary prayer and has desire for solitude.

*Also begins to converse with others about prayer; yet is constantly distracted by many social relationships.


St. Teresa is miraculously cured through the intercession of St. Joseph.

*After some time, she gives up prayer altogether through a false sense of humility (a trick of the devil).


On the death of her father (1543) she goes to his confessor, Fr. Vincent Barron, OP, who leads her to return to prayer.

*Prayer is difficult for her at this time (“I shut myself up with many vanities, Life n. 7, 17) but she becomes stronger.  And though she is having difficulty detaching herself from people, the Lord grants her favors periodically, to get her to turn to Him.


St. Teresa has a profound spiritual experience with an Ecce Homo statute.  This is the beginning of her definitive conversion.

*She begins to confess to Fr. Diego de Cetina (Life chp 9) who leads her to take on mortifications and to avoid the occasions of sin.

*Her prayer deepens and she experiences favors, the prayer of quiet & of union.

*It is at this time when our Holy Mother St. Teresa begins to have a profound spiritual life.


*St. Teresa receives the spiritual betrothal (at Dona Guiomar’s house) and experiences first rapture.


*She begins to have visions of Christ (intellectual & imaginative).

*Her prayer life deepens significantly.


This is a very significant year in St. Teresa’s life.

*She has the vision of the Risen Christ.

*She also experiences the transpiercing of her heart (transverberation) and has the vision of hell, which leads her to a deeper conversion.

*In this year, she also has a conversation with a group of women in her cell which will lead to the new foundation of St. Joseph’s of Avila.


*St. Teresa is sent by her Superior to Toledo to Dona Luisa de la Cerda’s house.

*During this time, there is growing in her the desire to make known the gifts God had given her.  She writes a short account of her personal spiritual testimony.  This will eventually lead her, through the prompting of Fr. Garcia de Toledo, to the writing of The Book of Her Life.  She will always writes in obedience to her superiors.


*St. Teresa writes the 1st edition of The Book of Her Life, however this did not survive (June 1562).

*This is also the year of the foundation of the monastery of St. Joseph in Avila.


*Fr. Garcia de Toledo, after receiving the first draft of the book, asks her to do a fuller version.  She completes the second edition in 1565.  In it she adds chapters 11-22 on prayer, as well as the chapters on the Reform of Carmel.  Her confessor at this time is Fr. Domingo Bañez.


St. Teresa writes the Way of Perfection on the prompting of her daughters.