Saint Teresa


Written in: May 06, 2014

The written work of Saint Teresa de Jesús is an alive work, prevailing currently despite the time that has passed since it was written. Her works keep the freshness of the newly traced texts.

Avid reader since her childhood, it is not easy to date the start of her literary labor, in her adolescence she made her debut as writer of a little of a cavalry novel. Teresa is a good example of autodidact writer, the readings that worked as a support when she wanted to tell her first intimate and mystic experiences. Teresa enjoyed the art of expressing appropriately what you want to narrate, it was obvious in her plenitude as a writer from the age of 45 to the age of 67 years. Before her death, she wrote her last pages full of freshness and youthful style (chapter 31 of the Book of the Foundations)

Writer of a vast variety of genres and levels she started dazzling her confessors that fed her pen. Teresa wrote a lot, but none of her books was published during the life of the saint. Copies were made, but only for the use of the Carmelites. Ramón Menéndez Pidal highlighted that for her humility, Teresa made an effort to write as simple as possible, she wrote as she spoke, she wrote fast and rarely she reread her writings.

The autobiography: Life of Saint Teresa de Jesús(Download)

It is the most famous text of the Saint, and it answers to the petition of her confessors, as she herself marks in the prologue : “This relation that my confessors order me”. A book that she would write twice, because her confessors make her to enlarge the first tale. The Path of perfection born as a spirituality manual for the use of the religious, her confessors considered that her Life could not be read by everybody. This work judged the essential to understand the spirit of her reform, even if in life of Saint Teresa she was judged with mocking and malevolent commentaries.

Her death doesn’t stop the divulgation of the Life. Convents, centers of studies and nobles want to have a copy that approach them to the life experiences of Saint Teresa and that arise curiosity in the society of that time. Finally, thanks to the negotiations made by the widow of Emperor Maximilian II, Mary of Austria, a revision is ordered to Fray Luis de León to edit the work and proceed to its printing. The original was conserved in the library of Philip II in El Escorial, where it is yet.

The way of Perfection (Download)

Saint Teresa begun to write it in 1564 1564 and her goal was to offer a manual to live the life of her religious of the Carmel of Saint Joseph of Avila. She called the work “the little book” and she considered it of a big importance for all of those who wanted to approach the way of life of the convent. Soon there were a lot of copies unfaithful to the original work, something that bothered Saint Teresa, that finally decided it will be printed after a final revision that was printed in 1579. When the text newly appears it had been retouched, perhaps by the censors, and there were successive editions until the moment where Luis de León published one of the closest to the original in 1588.

The Houses of the soul (Download)

The exact title is Houses of the interior castle, and it is the result of a new petition made by her confessor, Father Jerónimo Gracián, for here to rewrite her biography that in those moments was passing by the tribunal of the Inquisition.

The work concentrates advices about the mystic life, the way Saint Teresa had approached to it. It is a reading that she herself conceived for the theologians and spiritual directors.

Relationships and mercies. Exclamations (Download)

This work is composed by proses that are orations directed to Jesus. Her reading was so attractive that soon they were edited by Luis de León, published in Madrid and later in Naples.

The Foundations (Download)

Saint Teresa never named that work although it came to our days with the name of Original book of the foundations of her reformation that were made in Spain by the glorious virgin Saint Teresa of Jesús, written by her hand. In the year 1610 it was published in Brussels.

The redaction was made during different time spaces, starting with the Foundation of the Carmel of Saint Joseph in Avila that was already narrated in the Life, and then the foundation of Malagón; in 1574 she had already written the first nine chapters, and three years later, she restarts the job until in 1579 she redacted the Foundation of Caravaca, understood to be the last one.

She added some last chapters redacted in Burgos in 1582, few months before her death.

The manuscript is conserved in the Library of El Escorial, ordered also by Philip II.

Concept of the Love of God, Meditations about the Singings (Download)

It is a commentary to some verses of the biblical book The Song of Songs, that was very important at the time, because Fray Luis de León had been arrested and judged because of the translation of this work. Saint Teresa breaks down the different parts starting a dialogue one-on-one with the text. Fortunately, the text was conserved and published in Brussels in 1611.

Treaty of visiting the convents of the religious (Download)

This text is a description about the way the convents she founded should be visited. It was published in 1613 in Madrid, and it is destined to be a work of diffusion inside of the convents, fundamental in the formation of the religious.


Currently four hundred and seventy letters are conserved, complete and fragmented of letters of Teresa. The first letter is from 1561 and the last one from 1582.

It is not conserved the total as the investigators think she should have written at least four thousand letters with counting those she may have written before 1561.

Poetry (Download)

There are an approximate of thirteen political compositions with poems, carols, works in honor to some saints (Saint Andrew, Saint Hilarion, Saint Catherine of Alexandry) or also of familiar character.

It is important not to forget that despite the amount of time she dedicated to the Foundation and to the own reform of the Order, she was always a joyful and vigorous woman that liked the singings during the break times.

Initially, this type of composition didn’t received interest from the society and the scholars of that time. In fact, it was in the XIX century where studies about the lyrical work of the Saint started to be done.