It’s my daughter’s Name Day today. I have to confess I have been slack on this business, but I want to try and mark their saint name days a little better. I remember we came to a halt over the day for St. Ronan of Iona, who is so obscure he doesn’t appear to have a feast day. I think we decided to borrow from one of the Irish St. Ronan’s. Anyway today is the feast day of St. Teresa of Avila, a truly wonderful saint who is one of the very few (is it 7) doctors of the Church.
She met St Francis Borgia, St. John of the Cross. St Peter of Alcantara, St John of Avila, St John of God and possibly (can’t remember) St Robert Bellarmine. It seems that the people of Spain were blessed enough to be practically tripping over great saints in those days.
That’s quite an array of extremely holy people. It shows that when Jesus said “I will not leave you orphaned,” He really meant it. As unrest, war and political upheaval happened in Europe and the blood of the martyrs particularly in England under the heavy axe of Elizabeth I, spread, God raised great voices for Himself, full of courage and true holiness. These men and women took their oaths seriously, and obeyed them even in the face of hostility from their own fellow Catholics sometimes.
We are reading Saint Teresa of Avila from the Encounter the Saints Series (No I haven’t bought the whole set – but it’s tempting isn’t it?) The children are enjoying it and the illustrations are very good.
Other books and resources –
Life of Teresa of Jesus I haven’t read this one so can’t review it.
St Teresa of Avila by Robert Hugh Benson a well written solid story of her life, which lacks the awful sentimentality that some 19th c authors felt needed to be part of saints stories. Good ol’Benson.
The Interior Castle (or the Mansions) reading files I read this for Lent some years ago. Then one day as I was reading Charlotte Mason’s Ourselves from the Homeschooling series (its book 4 I think) I thought how much it resembled the work of St Teresa of Avila – in fact it was so similar it couldn’t be a coincident. I have since discovered, without much surprise, that Miss Mason was an avid reader of the great saint. In fact I have heard that a copy of St Teresa’s work was on her night table when she died.
An aside: When I was a child I hated saint stories. I had been given a couple of little saint books by someone. Each story was short and packed with sugar. Each illustration was of a syrupy saint gazing upwards fulfilling the motto of being so heavenly minded as to be no earthly good.
The exception for me was St. Bernadette. She had worked a quiet miracle for my grandfather giving him a good extra 5 years when he had been about to die. I took her as my Confirmation saint and happened to get a book some time later about her life which was written in a straight forward honest way. Even so, I assumed she was one of the “normal” saints unlike the rest of ’em. I heard in passing that St Ignatius Loyola had converted on reading the lives of saints, which astonished me as I wondered how a soldier could have found such sentimentality appealing.
Thankfully I now have access to a world of well written solid saint biographies and can share them with my children. They are growing up with a completely different view of the heroes and heroines of the Church – thankfully.