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Teresa of Avila: The Progress of a Soul
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John Seymour | 1797 comments Mod
2. We read Interior Castle, I think in 2015, and The Life of Saint Teresa of Ávila by Herself in April last year. Compare the picture of Teresa we get in this book with those. Does Medwick's book add to your understanding of Teresa of Ávila?

Jane Lebak | 44 comments I'm only a few chapters in so far, but I'm finding it helpful to have commentary about the pasages in the autobiography. At times Medwick is switching between biography and literary analysis, and I like that approach. Also, she's including historical background and societal background that Avila herself would never think to include just because she was writing for an audience that already knew about 16th century Spain. :-)

John Seymour | 1797 comments Mod
Absolutely. For the same reasons that Jane gives. The social/historical background is brilliant. It also sheds some interesting light on other issues. In the typical biographies of St. Teresa one reads that she (and St. John of the Cross) were responsible for the reform of the Carmelite order, but that dry report conveys none of the danger and privation which that endeavor entailed. Kidnappings, imprisonment, torture, fear of poison - being a reformer took real courage, and reform was really needed.

I also thought the background presence of the Inquisition interesting. In apologist circles, one often hears the relatively low body count of the Inquisition as perhaps not excusing for the Inquisition but contextualizing it. Medwick reminds us of the heavy and distorting impact of such an institution both in society as a whole and on those seeking to live a spiritual life.

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