St Teresa of Jesus
Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada (1515-1582) came from a converso family in Spain. She entered the Monastery of the Incarnation in Avila in 1535. She was a popular and attractive woman, blessed with many friends and sought after for her lively and outgoing personality. But she struggled for many years with a sense that she was called to go deeper in her love of God, and that she was not responding fully to his call. She writes graphically of the sense of being pulled in opposite directions. Gradually, through prayer and wise spiritual direction, she was drawn to a deeper austerity and closeness to Jesus. Meanwhile she became troubled by the events of her time and saw the need for a life focussed wholly on prayer. In 1562 she initiated a reform which ultimately led to the Discalced Carmelite life. Teresa wrote many books and letters, and made numerous foundations for both men and women. She was made a Doctor of the Church in 1970.
The icon shown here was written by the Melkite sisters from the Monastery of the Annunciation in Nazareth. The icon depicts union with Jesus at the centre of the soul's interior castle. The butterfly is a symbol of spiritual transformation. Teresa holds in her hand a copy of her prayer: 'Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you, all things are passing, God alone is unchanging, patience obtains everything, who possesses God wants for nothing, God alone suffices.' The four waters of prayer are shown, and St Joseph keeps protective watch over the entrance.