Teresa of Avila
1515-1582. Carmelite reformer, mystic, and writer. Born into a good Spanish family at Avila and educated by Augustinian nuns, she entered the Carmelite Convent of the Incarnation there in 1533, at first suffering from serious illness which caused her withdrawal. Reentering, but purposeless, it was not until the 1550s that she sought the life of perfection, praying before a statue of the scourged Christ at the pillar, and soon to have divine locutions and heavenly visions. She knew ecstasy, and among her spiritual experiences was the mystical piercing of the heart by a spear of divine love. She wrote about this but never stressed it unduly, recognizing the dangers. Domingo Banez,* a Dominican priest, influenced her much in these years.