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Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  902 ratings  ·  54 reviews
In this landmark of Christian mysticism,the reveredCarmelite nun presents moving accounts of her profound religious experiences and ultimate union with God. St. Teresa wrote this memoir at the behest of her confessor. It offers a warm, accessible account of her transformation into an impassioned leader and reformer of church doctrine.
St. Teresa recounts her childhood and e
Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 21st 2010 by Dover Publications (first published 1565)
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Great book. Teresa of Avila was a woman of very modern sensibilities. Her love affair with God is an integral part of this extraordinary autobiography/confession. There are the usual markers of the narrow-mindedness of the contemporary culture in which she lived: the pervasive religious fascism and fanaticism--a fanaticism fostered and promoted by the Church's power through the mandate of the Inquisition, the fear of the Devil's power to overthrow one's soul and the Devil's association with Negr ...more
I am always rediscovering Sta Teresa. She is the first of so many things in so many ways - first woman Doctor of the Church, first reformer of the Carmelite order, first woman to found an order of men, first "modern" (i.e. post-Inquistion) western mystic ... -, and each time I reread her, it's like the first time all over again, at a new depth and with a new dimension.

I was wary about this translation because the introduction is, well, froofy and kinda new-age in a way that peeves me. In my idea
For me this was a rather disconcerting read.

As an atheist you can't entertain the idea that the continual visions and spiritual experiences Teresa reads are visitations from God, there doesn't seem to be a 'conventional' explanation for what's going on. Teresa is lucid enough to write a clear and intelligent account of her experiences, her theology is complete and consistent (and conveniently in-line with the dogma that was current at the time). So she is not raving mad, I entertained the idea t
JoséMaría BlancoWhite
I recommend this book, preferably a different edition than this one by Penguin, to those who are looking from a Christian vantage point. The mystic nun of 16th century Spain, you can think anything you want of her, but she ain't ordinary. The spiritual experiences that "befell her is the central theme of the book" (intro. p.13). Her relationship with our Lord is honest and humble, sincere as any testimony that you'll ever hear. The way to approach this story is with respect, and also with humble ...more
Santa Teresa, a 16th century Catholic nun, tells of her spiritual progress as she comes to union with God. This Catholic classic has become increasingly popular throughout the past 500 years. Writing at the command of her Confessors (male priests who want to review and judge her spiritual experiences), she expresses herself humbly, self-effacingly, and even apologetically. She writes in simple, down-to-earth language, with some humor that was at the time risqué. Like most Spanish women of that e ...more
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
When reading this in liberal arts school and participating in discussion based class sessions I drew great knee jerk, PC-er than thou, dogmatic insistence at tolerating all things with word 'religious' or 'spiritual' attached to them (besides red state Christian fundamentalism) type of reactions by calling Ms. Teresa a junky looking for her God fix. I stand by this assessment today. I found her writing to be an interesting read nonetheless but also felt sorry for her and her rejection of the pre ...more
I read some decently difficult stuff, and this took work to get through. Not for lack of interest--I think it has more to do with Teresa's famously incoherent writing style.

It seems many people dislike Teresa's autobiography for her continual self-abasement. My policy when I read is generally to take the writer at her word, but it's difficult when it's couched as a letter to her superiors. And yet she seems to have a wider audience in mind, too. The further I read, the more I admired this sort o
Thank you Jane! I have read, reread, listened to, savored and thoroughly enjoyed this book. I most highly recommend the audio version* which I've been listening to in my car off and on for the past six weeks. Teresa is of course herself, engaging, deeply and humbly insighful, charming and humorous in a way that trancends centuries of time, and cultural and linguistic differences. Mirabai Starr's translation is both fresh and in line with more conventional versions.

One observation, however, or wo
James Violand
Jul 08, 2014 James Violand rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: own
Don't be turned off because Teresa is a Catholic saint during the Counter-Reformation. Read her experiences and you'll find yourself admiring a truly holy woman. I suppose some of you would even consider her similar to ascetic practitioners of meditation in a number of Indian religions. There is evidence of her levitating as these swamis and yogis have done. Her meditations were so strong as to cause her to escape reality to a higher plain of existence. A true wonder. Read this book and see what ...more
Probably essential for anyone interested in mystic thought. The modern reader will be interested in the contradiction between her disdain for the flesh and her prayer ecstasies which sometimes read like descriptions of body orgasm.
I first read The Life of St. Teresa in college, and was fascinated by her life. The Book of My Life, a new translation by Mirabai Starr, is the first complete translation to be done by a woman. I found Starr’s interpretation and choices to be right on target with who I perceived Teresa to be. If I had had this translation in college, it would have been immensely helpful in understanding the earthy qualities that Teresa possessed and how they influenced her writing.

Even if you have read this befo
It took me a while to get through this one. Saint Teresa is a bit of a rambler and it's not your typical memoir or even spiritual autobiography: one gets the sense she's going in circles and repeating the same things over and over. There is no clear sense of progression, but then again, she was a nun so how much does a nun's life change from year to year? On the other hand, though she repeats things often, they are the kinds of things that, even if you heard them a thousand times, it wouldn't hu ...more
Victoria Hernández
I don't have words to explain this book!!! very deep!!! but at the same time you can see the role for the women in the XVI century!!
Brett Folkman
Exceptionally honest, allowing one to peer deep into the soul of this amazing woman of faith. Especially loved the descriptions of her heavenly manifestations and her humility throughout.
Great source on female mysticism through one of the most famous, St. Teresa herself.
While the life of Saint Teresa is interesting, she could have used a good editor. The book is a rambling, unfocused mess. I could have even overlooked that, but the translation was a big problem for me. How can you translate a 16th century book by a nun and edit out almost all references to the devil? How can you translate "sin" as "missing the mark"? I don't care if the translator is a Jewish-Buddhist-New Age whatever. She ruined the book for me. While I was looking forward to reading other wor ...more
Sep 02, 2009 Itai rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
English transaltion of Santa Teresa de Ávila: Libro de la Vida by Mirabai Starr. I can only assume that this got higher ratings than it deserved because people confused the poor translation with the subject. The language of the translation is, indeed, fine. However, a translation is inevitably an interpretation and this one is, as one reviewer rightly wrote, "froofy." Ms. Starr is a spiritual seeker with a considerable gift of language, but seems to have transformed the life of her subject, Tere ...more
Stefan Garcia
It is difficult to read this book as a modern person because it is such a different one, even if one remains a Catholic. I would psychologize so much of the writing here, the visions in particular, but to do that would not do justice to what Teresa was saying. I found the visions part to be redundant. It is much less important than she believed. What did provide more inspiration was the beginning, her struggling in the spiritual life. That part was useful as a twisty road map for anyone who woul ...more
Jayme Schneider
I picked up this book to read during my morning meditation/prayer session and found that it rambled too much for me to derive great use out of it. Although it had captivating moments with salient points (I particularly liked how she compares the soul to a garden that needs consistent tending), it fell short for me in the end. I probably would have done better with reading her spiritual classic INTERIOR CASTLE as opposed to her autobiography.
I completely disagree with the characterization of St. Teresa as a " hysterically unbalanced" woman... She was a great woman OOD her time and for all times, a true feminist in and of the Church. Her struggle. To find God is the Struggle of many people when they find themselves in the desert of spirituality. I have read and re-read this book for over twenty years and still find new layers.
Teresa's Life is a brilliant example of the essential connection between mysticism and a life of active commitment to a holistic gospel (spiritual intimacy, evangelism and social justice). Her prayer life (knowing the heart of God) catapulted her out into the world in service to others. I am inspired by her firey passion and imagination.
Layne Preau
I couldn't get throught this one! We were supposed to read it for book group but had to cancel due to lack of interest. I only got through the first 5 or 6 chapters but the whole thing was her talking about what a horrible person she was blah blah blah. She was sainted so how bad could she be?
St. Teresa is a mystic. I love to read about the super-natural events in her life. Her visions of angels, devils, her raptures and levitations keep you turning the page, because you have the sense they really happened-- namely because they did.
This is Teresa's thoughts, feelings and over all relationship with God. At times I did find it difficult to understand her thought process, I took my time and did enjoy it. While audio books are not my first choice I would like to hear this one.
Dec 02, 2008 TheRose rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Catholics, anyone who struggles with prayer
Recommended to TheRose by: Fr. Ignatius
Shelves: biography, religion
I was surprised by how very readable this book was. Saint Teresa seems to be a bit scrupulous about things, but perhaps that's the reason she's a saint and I am not? Anyway, I found a lot of inspiration for my own prayer life.
A huge pain to read, on account of the fact that she wrote it without proofreading or self-editing, but full of really great stuff, and very down to earth. This is the book that made me want to become Catholic.
May 17, 2007 Timi rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Absolutely
This book is a wonderful read for anyone who is looking to improve and advance their prayer techniques. Saint Teresa outlines 4 different stages of prayer, which are very helpful if you wish to go deeper.
One of the greatest books on mysticism of all time!
If you have any interest in faith or meditation you must read this, and Road to Perfection and The Interior Castle!

Best read in Spanish.
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Well Trained Mind...: TWEM Biography #4 32 10 May 11, 2015 02:03PM  
The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself 1 16 Mar 07, 2009 07:56AM  
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Saint Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, was a prominent Spanish mystic, Carmelite nun, and writer of the Counter Reformation. She was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered to be, along with John of the Cross, a founder of the Discalced Carmelites. In 1970 she was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI.

Born in Avila, Spain, on March 28, 1515, St. Teresa was the
More about Teresa of Ávila...
Interior Castle The Way of Perfection Let Nothing Disturb You The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Ávila, Vol. 1 The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, Volume 2

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“I am quite sure I am more afraid of people who are themselves terrified of the devil than I am of the devil himself.” 25 likes
“For if the will has nothing to employ it and love has no present object with which to busy itself, the soul finds itself without either support or occupation, its solitude and aridity cause it great distress and its thoughts involve it in the severest conflict.” 24 likes
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