When one reaches the highest degree of human maturity, one has only one question left: How can I be helpful? –St. Teresa of Avila
The Papal Artifacts’ Collection is primarily dedicated to artifacts connected to the papacy. Individual popes, their biographies and multiple items belonging to them, including first and second class relics, make up the majority of this Collection. But that isn’t all it is.
Father Kunst has a deep devotion to the saints as can be readily seen in viewing the Saints & Blesseds section of this site. We invite you to visit Papal History/Saints & Blesseds to view the many canonized and beatified men and women who make up this section of the Collection. St. Teresa of Avila is one of them.
The artifact is a rare reliquary containing two relics of St. Teresa of Avila including the shroud in which she was buried and her signature. It measures 44 X 37 mm in a frame.
The reliquary almost certainly dates from the era of her canonization in 1622.
This is a valuable addition to the Papal Artifacts’ Collection.
About St. Teresa of Avila:
Accustom yourself continually to make many acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul. –St. Teresa
Born to a noble family on March 28, 1515, Teresa was on of nine children born to Alonzo Sanchez de Cepeda. When she was twelve years old, her mother died. An oft told story about her is that at the age of seven, desiring martyrdom, she ran off to find the Moors, who, she hoped, would cut off her head, thereby granting her wish. Later, she imitated the anchorites by building hermitages in her family’s garden.
“Great sins” awaited her: reading novels, flirting and frivolous chatter–the common practices of the young.
Not common, however, for Teresa. By age sixteen, she boarded at an Augustinian convent and remained there for eighteen months. Later, after a conversation with an uncle, she embraced her vocation to be a nun.
In 1534, Teresa took her vows at the Carmelite convent in Avila. She was allowed to receive guests there, and for twenty years, she tried to enjoy both the delights of prayer and the pleasures of secular conversation. But something was amiss: the gift of her whole self to God had not yet been realized. When it was given, her life consisted in prayer, apparitions of Christ, sufferings, and ecstasies.
In 1562, Teresa set out to reform the Carmelite order. This resulted in innumerable persecutions and sufferings. She established convents in Avila, Toledo and many other sites in Spain. Teresa and three ducats and God are sufficient to make a success of everything, she said, while attempting with meager means to open a convent in Toledo while having next to nothing.
Teresa was aided by St. John of the Cross and Father Jerome Gratian who helped her reform all branches of the Carmelite order.
St. Teresa is one of the most universally admired of women. Her intelligence and charm, her chivalrous spirit, her talent as a writer, and her experience with mystical connections to God have won her a privileged place in the hearts of many.
She died in ecstasy at the convent of Alba, her head supported by Mother Anne of St. Bartholomew, her eyes fixed on the crucifix, on the night of October 4-5, 1582.
In 1970, Teresa of Avila was made a Doctor of the Church, along with St. Catherine of Siena.
Yet it is as a mystic that she is best remembered.
Papal Artifacts also has an item connected to Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew, secretary to St. Teresa.
About Blessed Anne:
“I will say here, for the glory of our Lord, that He always gave me consolations when I did good to my neighbor, when the occasion presented itself, and when I aided them in their need. I inconvenienced myself, it is true, on these occasions, but I found instead of an inconvenience it was a real consolation. It is to the good Master I owe it, and it has remained so with me until this day. May His holy Name be blessed!”
Anne was born in a little town in central Spain called Almendral in 1549. She had three brothers and three sisters. When she was ten, she lost both her parents in a plague that spread across Spain. She had an extraordinary spiritual life from an early age and her visions and revelations continued throughout her life. As a teenager she had a vision where the Virgin told her she would become a nun. She worked as a shepherdess, and when her family tried to arrange a marriage, she declined and despite their opposition, Anne entered the first of St. Teresa’s new monasteries – St. Joseph’s in Avila – in 1570, at the age of 21. She was a lay-sister, and was very hard working. She often had no time for prayer during the day, so she devoted time to prayer during the night. She did not know how to write until she entered Carmel where she learned from St Teresa herself.
In 1577, Teresa chose Anne as her personal assistant, nurse and secretary and during the next 5 years Anne was her inseparable companion, travelling with her and assisting in the last four foundations. All of Teresa’s letters in the last few years of her life were dictated to Anne. Teresa died in Anne’s arms in 1582 at the monastery in Alba de Tormes.
In 1604, Anne was among the group of nuns chosen to accompany Ana de Jesus on the expedition to France, where she was forced to take the black veil as a choir nun against her will. She assisted in the foundation of several French convents and served as prioress at Pontoise, Paris and Tours. She suffered very much during this time because of the excessive control of French male superiors. After her time in France, she then went on to the Netherlands where she founded the convent at Antwerp in 1612. She remained there until her death on June 7th in 1626.
Soon after her death, miracles were attributed to her intercession and it is claimed that by 1632 over 150 miracles had been approved. She proved herself, like St. Teresa, a daughter of the Church in her great zeal for souls. In 1735 Pope Clement XII declared the heroicity of her virtues and she was beatified by Pope Benedict XV in 1917.
Her writings include a number of letters still preserved, an autobiography and several treatises on spiritual matters.
“Our Lord became a spring for us, so that we should not die of thirst among all the miseries that surround us.”
Let Nothing Disturb You: The Prayer of St. Teresa of Avila:
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
— St. Teresa of Avila