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Teresa of Avila

TERESA of Avila, St. b. Gotarrendura, Avila, Spain, 28 March 1515; d. Alba de Tormes, 4 October 1582. She was born into a prosperous merchant family. Her intense idealism was shown in childhood when, at the age of seven, she went with her brother Rodrigo to look for the Moors with the intention of being martyred (see the Prelude to Middlemarch, by George Eliot: they were brought back by an uncle, who happened to see them). In 1536 she entered the Carmelite* convent of the Incarnation at Avila. During her early years there she suffered much from illness, and had to leave the convent at one point; but she then developed a rich spiritual life, especially after a ‘conversion’ of 1555, with...

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