Rome (Italy). 15 October 2023 marks the memory of Saint Teresa of Jesus, who Don Bosco wanted to be the patron saint of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. The Saint of Avila was the first woman in history declared a Doctor of the Church by Saint Pope Paul VI on 27 September 1970.

In the homily given on that occasion, he expressed himself thus, “we see her appear before us as an exceptional woman, as a religious woman who, completely veiled in humility, penance, and simplicity, radiates around herself the flame of her human vitality and of her spiritual vivacity. She is also a reformer and founder of a historic and illustrious religious Order, and a brilliant and fruitful writer, teacher of spiritual life. She is an incomparable contemplative and tirelessly active”.

This description presents some fundamental traits that can constitute as many paths for further study of her figure, to grasp her extraordinary relevance and exemplary nature for everyone, in particular for the FMA.

In 2021, Pope Francis in addressing the participants in the International Congress “Mujer excepcional” (Exceptional Woman) dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the doctorate of Saint Teresa of Avila, specified: “We must not forget that her recognized relevance in these dimensions is nothing other than the consequence of what was important to her, her encounter with the Lord, her “determined determination,” as she says, to persevere in union with Him through prayer; her firm resolution to carry out the mission that had been entrusted to her from the Lord, to whom she offers herself with simplicity”.

Teresa recognizes in her life the transforming action of God, the Grace that strengthens and directs her attitudes and strengths towards the mission. It is her faith that makes her “an exceptional woman”. She lives in a time of great changes. She is not disturbed by it. On the contrary, she promotes the reform of her Order, overcoming all resistance and distrust because she has experienced within herself the power of transforming Grace.

Teresa is an example of someone who entrusts herself to the Holy Spirit and becomes a channel of His creative and regenerating action. Francis states, “We are not living in an era of change, but a change of era. And in this sense, our days have many similarities with those of the 16th century in which the Saint lived. As then, even now we Christians are called to ensure that through us, the strength of the Holy Spirit continues to renew the face of the earth (cf. Ps 104:30) in the certainty that ultimately it is the Saints who allow that the world advances closer to its definitive goal”.

If in the face of today’s events, one often experiences a sense of inadequacy and impotence that leads to resignation, Teresa, a woman of faith, can support the hope and courage of those who daily seek ways to proclaim the Kingdom of God and indicate paths of salvation. The Pope insists, “Prayer made Saint Teresa an exceptional woman, a creative and innovative woman”.

The Saint recounts her experience and outlines an itinerary to grow in prayer, stating, “The Lord wants works. For example, He wants you not to worry about losing that devotion to console a sick person to whom you see you can be of relief… This is what true union with the will of God consists of!”.

Here too there is an important teaching for the current time: the synthesis between prayer and life, between contemplation and action. Today, we need courageous witnesses of the primacy of God as the only true and total defender of Life. Only those who offer themselves and make themselves available to God’s creative and regenerating action can experience His work of transformation ‘on their own skin’ and only those who have been transformed by Him can work effectively in history. Teresa, like every Saint, ultimately testifies that God always chooses the path of the Incarnation, of passing through the hearts, eyes, and hands of those who entrust themselves totally to Him. And in this way, it doesn’t matter so much what it is done, how much, for Whom, and why it is done.

It is said that while she was in the monastery of the Incarnation of Avila, Teresa found herself in front of a beautiful child who was smiling at her. She was amazed to see a child inside the convent. She asked him, “And who are you?” To which the child replied with another question, “And who are you?” And she said, “I am Teresa of Jesus.” With a broad and bright smile, the child told her, “I am Jesus of Teresa”.


  1. Hermoso recordarla a la Andariega de Jesus. Q nos regale coraje de continuar a caminar levando a Jesus con la Vida y El testimonio… Buena Fiesta. Sor Aida


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