St. Teresa’s Close Encounter of the First Kind

St. Teresa of Ávila was a Carmelite nun in the 16th century, during the Counter Reformation. She is known for the spiritual struggles she encountered in her monastic life and which resulted in her most renowned work, “The Interior Castle,” written in 1577, considered a masterpiece of mystical literature, where she describes the journey of the soul towards union with God, using the metaphor of a castle with seven chambers to represent the stages of spiritual growth. She is also known for reforming the Carmelite order to which she belonged. Along with John of the Cross, Teresa established the Discalced Carmelite Order, discalced, derived from the Latin, meaning “without shoes”. A discalced religious order is one whose members go barefoot or wear sandals. The Discalced Carmelites nuns dedicate themselves to a life of prayer and follow a completely contemplative life. More famously, St. Teresa is also known for her account of coming face to face with an “angel”, an account which became the subject of Bernini’s sculpture the “Ecstasy of St. Teresa” created 1647-52 and which sits in the Cornaro Chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome. By her own account this encounter differs from other mystical experiences she had, in a very physical sense, including the presence of an actual being, about 3 ft in height, brandishing a “spear” or “arrow” of some kind. It seems the Church’s, and Bernini’s, interpretation of this experience leaned toward the ecstatic, including the sexual apparently. The similarities between St. Teresa’s account of what happened to her, with the accounts of those who have had abduction / grey alien type of experiences stand out however, according to Diana Pasulka in the video below.

Diana Pasulka


St Teresa of Avila

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