Fall 1984, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 196-209.

Joseph F. Chorpenning:
      Reading St. Teresa of Avila's Life Today

Developmental psychology and narrative theology help us to read and appreciate more fully St. Teresa's autobiography and draw inspiration from it for today.

Father Chorpenning, O.S.F.S., is assistant professor of Spanish and theology at Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales, located in Center Valley, Pennsylvania. He has done extensive research into St. Teresa's life, writings, and sixteenth-century milieu.

HOW does a late twentieth-century person read a spiritual classic like St. Teresa of Avila's autobiography, which was originally composed for a small and select audience, her confessors and spiritual directors, in a cultural milieu, sixteenth-century Spain, from which we are separated by four hundred years? This is an important question for our age, which seeks to rediscover the Western spiritual tradition.(1)

The contemporary reader most often has two complaints about the text of St. Teresa's Life. The first is that her literary style is diffuse and digressive. As Fr. Kieran Kavanaugh, one of the modern translators of the Life, has remarked: "As though her thoughts were jostling with each other for position, her sentences often become highly involved with parentheses and digressions, causing her sometimes to lose the thread -- which never prevents her from leaping forward quickly and easily to a new thought."(2) A second complaint has to do with St. Teresa's focus on, and minute analysis of, supernatural favors and phenomena in the Life. The author of a recent essay on St. Teresa puts it this way: "Her record of raptures and visions answers to nothing in the experience of most Christians."(3)

While today's readers may experience formal and conceptual difficulties in reading St. Teresa's Life, they also have at their disposal two contemporary interpretative aids to assist them in this endeavor: developmental psychology, particularly as it has been recently transposed into a Christian key by Evelyn and James Whitehead(4); and what is called in academic circles "narrative theology" and more popularly "theology of story." In this essay I suggest how insights from developmental psychology and the theology of story facilitate the reading of St. Teresa's Life, while respecting its original purpose and context.


Before turning to see how developmental psychology and the theology of story can be helpful in reading St. Teresa's Life, it would be useful to give a synopsis of the Life by way of orientation. Commanded by her confessors and spiritual directors to give an account of "the favors and the kind of prayer" (32) the Lord granted her, St. Teresa began to write her autobiography in 1562. It was composed in two stages. A first draft was finished in June, 1562. After reviewing this redaction, her confessors requested that she revise and expand it. This request reached Teresa in either late 1563 or early 1564. The final version was completed in 1565. From the outset we must remember that Teresa was essentially being asked to explain how she became who she was, the recipient of numerous extraordinary favors and the foundress of St. Joseph's convent in Avila, the first reformed Carmelite convent. In response to this request, Teresa reviewed and interpreted her past life from the perspective of her present situation. Her account consists of forty chapters. In chapter 23 Teresa tells us that her life story is divided into two parts. The first part is comprised of chapters 1-9, and the second, chapters 10-40: "This is another, new book from here on -- I mean another, new life. The life dealt with up to this point was mine; the one I lived from the point where I began to explain these things about prayer [i.e., in chapter 10] is the one God lived in me -- according to the way it appears to me . . ." (152).

Indicative of the value St. Teresa gives to her "new life" is the number of chapters she apportions to it in her autobiography three times as many as she devotes to the first part of her life. The imbalance in terms of chronological years is striking: the first part of the Life encompasses thirty-nine years, while the second part covers only eight years, since Teresa began her autobiography in 1562 at the age of forty-seven. The first part of the Life goes from her birth in 1515 and her childhood to approximately 1554, when, at the age of thirty-nine, she had a profound conversion experience. For the next two years or so she enjoyed the first outpouring of mystical graces, inaugurating the second part of her life, in which she experienced ever greater favors and initiated and carried out her reform of the Carmelite order.

Teresa was born of devout and virtuous parents. Her siblings included two sisters and nine brothers. Teresa portrays herself as a devout child. Reared in a close-knit family which enjoyed reading, at an early age Teresa read the lives of the saints, particularly of women martyrs, and the romances of chivalry. Inspired by the stories she read of the martyrs, Teresa and a younger brother once ran away from home in the hope of going to northern Africa, where they could be martyred by the Moors. An uncle found them, however, and brought them back. Frustrated in their desire for martyrdom, Teresa and her brother then tried to build a hermitage in the garden in back of their house and play at being hermits. Teresa also practiced almsgiving and became dedicated to prayer, especially the rosary. When Teresa was twelve, her mother died.

As an adolescent, Teresa's devotion cooled. She became concerned with her personal appearance and popularity. Teresa's judgment on this part of her life is that it was a time of vanity and frivolity which contrasted with the "good habits" of her childhood (38). At this time she also became friendly with a female relative about her own age, whom Teresa's father judged as having an adverse effect on her. Subsequently Teresa's father sent her to a convent school, where she began to struggle with a religious vocation. The turning point in her vocational struggle occurred while she was recovering from a fever at an uncle's house, where she read St. Jerome's letters, several of which are exhortations to the eremetical life. At age twenty-one Teresa entered the Carmelite convent of the Incarnation in Avila. For the next eighteen years she experienced considerable interior agitation, the origin of which was, in her own words, a "battle and conflict between friendship with God and friendship with the world" which raged within her (66). In 1554, moved by an image of the wounded Christ and the reading of St. Augustine's Confessions, Teresa resolved her conflict of interests.

This experience of 1554 marked a turning point in her life. She began to experience new developments in her relationship with God in prayer, which she described in chapters 11-22. From this point on Teresa lead a new life. With St. Paul she could say: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2.20). Teresa also began to be the recipient of such extraordinary favors as locutions, raptures, and visions. She was also given dominion over demons, and her prayer had special efficacy. Teresa, however, was not the only one to benefit from God's working through her; for example, her prayer restored sight to the blind and cured the sick, and her intercession drew souls away from serious sin and closer to God. God's working through Teresa to benefit others culminated in her projects for the reform of the Carmelite order which took concrete form in the foundation of St. Joseph's convent in August 1562. Through Teresa's reform, God touched and continued to touch the lives of many people.


One aid which the contemporary readers of St. Teresa's Life have to assist them in understanding and appreciating the saint's presentation of her life story is developmental psychology, particularly as it has been presented in a recent book entitled Christian Life Patterns: The Psychological Challenges and Religious Invitations of Adult Life by Evelyn and James Whitehead. Up to the present the application of psychological models to St. Teresa's autobiographical data has had a very limited success.(5) The Whiteheads' book seems to have greater promise in this area.

The Whiteheads' work is based on the developmental psychology of Erik Erikson. The underlying notion of Christian Life Patterns is that the human personality grows and develops not only in infancy, childhood, and adolescence but over the entire life span. As the subtitle of this book indicates, moreover, this process of development offers opportunities for both psychological and religious growth. The Whiteheads divide the process of psychological and religious development into three phases, each of which has a particular challenge or crisis to be surmounted.

The first phase is that of young adulthood, which corresponds to the twenties. During this phase the individual strives to integrate intimacy (that is, discover a loved partner with whom to share life, work, and love in ways that are mutually satisfying and enriching) and identity (that is, achieve a sense of independent selfhood). The religious invitation of this phase is to establish and maintain an interpersonal relationship with the Lord which provides a framework for one's interaction with self and others, and to choose a vocation.

The second phase of adult development is that of middle adulthood, which spans the broad scope of human experience between the thirties and sixties. The challenge of this stage is to resolve the tension between generativity (that is, broadening the scope of one's concern to include, effective involvement in an expanding social network) and self-centered impulses (that is, focusing one's efforts and energies upon oneself and a narrow circle of intimates). While the outcome of the successful negotiation of the struggle to integrate intimacy and identity is love, the satisfactory resolution of the crisis of middle adulthood produces creativity and caring. The Christian expresses this creativity and care in diakonia, "action for others, action expressive of one's talents and gifts, and action in accord with the vision or dream of Christianity."(6)

The final phase of adult development is late adulthood. Here the person struggles with integrity (that is, self-assessment that can lead to an acceptance of one's life as meaningful and appropriate) and despair (that is, the inability to find one's own life acceptable and the realization that there is not enough time left to make something different, something meaningful, of one's life). At this stage the Christian is invited to accept her or his own finiteness and mortality and God's unconditional, unmerited, and unmeritable love, which does not depend on what I do or who I am. The fruit of this phase of development is wisdom.

Christian Life Patterns offers us a way of conceptualizing St. Teresa's life story in contemporary terms. This conceptualization not only helps us to understand the process of her psychological and religious development but also to discover a commonality between her experience and our own, since we share the same human condition.

When St. Teresa started to write the Life, she was forty-seven. She would live twenty more years. As she looked back over her life from the perspective of 1562, she had, in the Whiteheads' phases, passed through young adulthood and was in the midst of middle adulthood, having negotiated a mid-life crisis at the age of thirty-nine.

Theresa's young adulthood is characterized by an irresolution which brought her to a spiritual impasse. She had been a devout child; in adolescence, however, she lost the "good habits" of childhood (38), a loss for which she later grieved. As an adolescent she became intensely engaged in the effort to integrate intimacy and identity. Although Teresa managed to recover something of her earlier devotion, opened herself to an intimate relationship with God, and resolved to enter religious life, she could not shake herself loose from her attachment to the world. Teresa tells us that the form her affection for the world took was an addiction to useless social intercourse and the exchange of Avila gossip which took place in the salon-like atmosphere of the parlor of the convent of the Incarnation. Once she was back inside the convent routine, these parlor conversations were a constant source of distraction. The hours spent in the parlor undermined the asceticism of cutting down on useless external stimulation, an asceticism demanded by the life of prayer. Teresa's first eighteen years as a nun were marked by a spiritual tepidity and lukewarmness which were the direct effect of her worldly attachment. The tension between Teresa's friendship with God and her attachment to the world, which she herself describes as "two contraries -- so inimical to one another" (63), wreaked physical and psychic havoc: during this period she constantly complained of ulcers, headaches, backaches, etc. Thus while Teresa made a choice of vocation in young adulthood, she did not successfully integrate intimacy and identity during this phase. Rather, she wavered between God and the world for almost two decades.(7)

In 1554, in mid-life, Teresa underwent a profound conversion experience, precipitated by an image of the wounded Christ and her reading of St. Augustine's Confessions, which moved her finally to make a decision to walk steadfastly in one direction. The delayed resolution of her struggle to integrate intimacy with God and her independent selfhood, exemplified by her wanting her way, wanting God but so much else besides, also enabled her to negotiate the tension between generativity and self-centered impulses, because it diminished these impulses and made her more attentive and responsive to God and to other people. The hallmark of her life from this point on in her middle adulthood was an ever increasing generativity: she initiated and carried out the reform of Carmel, founding over a dozen reformed convents throughout Spain; and she became a prolific spiritual writer. Moreover, even though she was still in middle adulthood when she wrote the Life, we can already glimpse her resolution of the conflict between integrity and despair: her project of self-writing shows that she perceived a pattern, a coherence, a meaningfulness, in her life. Teresa was also acutely aware of her own human limitations and of the presence and activity of grace, God's free and unmerited gift of himself, in her life.

Approaching the Life from the viewpoint of Christian Life Patterns makes it possible for us to see how Teresa's experience can shed light on our own spiritual quest. Often we, like Teresa, want God, but we also want many other things. Teresa shares with us that she too was stuck in this ambivalence, and that one can find one's way out. Frequently we question the meaningfulness of our lives and existence in this world. Teresa assures us that life is indeed meaningful and worthwhile to the degree that we allow ourselves to engage in ministry and service to others.


While developmental psychology helps us to describe the process of Teresa's psychological and religious development in contemporary terms, and perhaps to grasp its relevance for our own development, the theology of story assists us in understanding how Teresa herself conceptualized her life story.

The past fifteen years have witnessed an explosion of interest in narrative, or story, on the part of theologians. There are many roots for this interest. One is that story, or narrative, recaptures the style of Jesus, who told the story of God in the stories of people, and whose own personal story is the sustaining force among his followers. As one theologian has observed: "Given that the man Jesus Christ and his story have always formed the basis and centre of Christian theologizing, it is surprising that theology has been predominantly schematic and systematic rather than narrative in approach; philosophical and 'scientific' rather than personal and literary in character."(8)

The theology of story takes as its starting point human experience, which has an intrinsically narrative, or story, quality about it. The story, then, is the most common and universal means of communicating human experience, and human beings are essentially storylistening and storytelling beings, with storylistening being a precondition for storytelling.(9) The theology of story serves to make us more aware than we have previously been of St. Teresa as both a storylistener and storyteller. More precisely, it alerts the reader of the Life to the fact that perhaps Teresa's telling of her life story is best understood against the background of her storylistening and storyreading.

Teresa was reared in a close-knit family of readers. From childhood she was an avid reader and a friend of books. Her writings provide us with an inventory of the books she read, all of which were in the vernacular: contemporary fiction (the novels of chivalry), the fathers of the church (for example, St. Jerome's epistles, St. Augustine's Confessions, and St. Gregory the Great's commentary on the Old Testament Book of job), the lives of the saints, Ludolph of Saxony's medieval Life of Christ, Thomas à Kempis's devotional masterpiece the Imitation of Christ, contemporary treatises on prayer such as Fray Francisco de Osuna's Third Spiritual Alphabet and Fray Bernardino de Laredo's Ascent of Mt. Sion, and so on.

Cultures and societies compress their essential values and convictions in ideal human models. In turn, these ideal types function as role models for the members of a given culture and society. These role models, portrayed, for instance, in the stories and art which prevail in a culture, affect the members of a culture and society in their self-conceptions and modes of behavior as well as in the way they tell stories about themselves.(10)Once Christianity became legitimate with the Edict of Milan, 313 C.E., it began almost immediately to offer its own role models, the saints, who replaced the heroes and sages of pagan antiquity, and who perdure to the present day. In sixteenth-century Spain, the saint was particularly prominent as a role model. The lives of the saints were "bestsellers" of the day. A very large portion of the art of the period was devoted to representations of the saints, as the paintings of St. Teresa's contemporary El Greco attest. The veneration of the saints as models of Christian life, workers of miracles, and heavenly intercessors was a frequent and popular theme of the preaching of the period. Furthermore, institutional support for the promotion of the saint as a role model was reaffirmed when the Council of Trent instructed bishops to foster the invocation and veneration of the saints and their images "because through the saints of God miracles and salutary examples are put before the eyes of the faithful, so that . . . they may fashion their lives and their actions in imitation of the saints . . . ."(11)

Another way, therefore, to read the Life is with reference to the role model which predominated in sixteenth-century Catholic Spain -- the saint. More precisely, we can read the Life in the context of the stories St. Teresa herself read which presented the saint as a model to be imitated: St. Augustine's Confessions, which inaugurated and stands at the head of the literary tradition of autobiography in the West, and the lives of the saints, which initiated and are the mainstay of Christian biography. The Confessions and the lives of the saints complement one another as interpretative aids: the latter are most helpful in understanding Teresa's childhood and life after her conversion experience of 1554, while the former sheds light on the waverings and wanderings of Teresa's adolescence, young adulthood, and middle adulthood up to her mid-life transition. A prerequisite to using these works to approach the Life is a familiarity with their principal features.

St. Augustine composed the Confessions about 397, two years after he had been consecrated a bishop. They are divided into thirteen books. Books 1-9 recount Augustine's past from infancy (he was born in 354) to the death of his mother Monica (387). In book 10 Augustine describes his present situation, the perspective from which he writes the Confessions: he is in a state of personal crisis because, even though he has been converted, baptized, ordained a priest, and consecrated a bishop, he continues to be plagued with the temptations of his past life, detailed in books 1-9. Augustine's eventual resolution of his crisis in the healing memory of Christ leads him in books 11-13 to make a profound meditation on time and history which goes back to the beginning of time, the first verses of Genesis.(12)

The first nine books of the Confessions are those which have been most influential in subsequent autobiographies: the scenes, images, and formulas of these books appear with a high incidence in autobiographical writing down through Western history. These are also the books relevant to the Life. The following is a list of the phases of books 1-9 of the Confessions which I have adopted from a recent book on autobiography.(13)

   1. Childhood (book 1). Augustine's account of his own and of human childhood is written in the midst of his protracted argument with Pelagius. Consequently he is at pains to deny infantile innocence, to expose the child's perverted will, and to excoriate the sins of boyhood.

   2. Adolescence -- Fall and Exile (book 2). Book 2 is devoted to Augustine's sixteenth year, a somber time of sexuality, in which an illegitimate son is conceived. Augustine sees his personal fall as a recapitulation of Adam's fall, for example, the pear tree episode.

   3. Wandering -- Journey -- Pilgrimage (books 3-5). Beginning with book 3, Augustine begins an intellectual, professional, and geographic quest which will lead him to a point of crisis prior to his conversion.

   4. The Crisis (books 6-8). Augustine undergoes a crisis which he presents in medical imagery. The content of his crisis is intellectual (charted in his detailed commentary on the stages of his dispute with pagan thought) and spiritual (exemplified by his insight into the divided will of the imminent convert), as well as passional and moral (precipitated by his tragic love affair with the mother of his illegitimate son, Adeodatus, and his contracting an engagement and planning to marry).

   5. Epiphany and Conversion (book 8, chapter 12). In the garden at Milan, Augustine hears the words "Take and read," opens the Scriptures to Romans 13:13-14, which he understands as a divine epiphany, and is converted.

   6. Renewal and Return (book 9). Following the garden epiphany, Augustine and his friends return to a country villa at Cassiciacum. After his baptism on Easter, 387, they plan to return home. On the way they pause at Ostia, where Augustine and Monica have a vision.

The other kind of story which St. Teresa read and which presented the saint as a role model was hagiography. The prototype of this literary form was St. Athanasius's Life of St. Antony (composed about 357).(14) The plot of the Life of Antony was biographical, that is, the story is structured by the events of Antony's life (his birth, education and youth, lifetime, postmortem cultus and miracles). In the Life of Antony a pattern of motifs emerge which will become commonplaces in subsequent lives of the saints, including those St. Teresa read: the saint is devout even as a youth; the major portion of the saint's lifetime is taken up with waging war against Satan, working miracles, and practicing virtue; and the themes of martyrdom and its substitutes -- monasticism, poverty, almsgiving, and prayer -- figure prominently in the saint's life. What unifies these various elements of the plot is the point of view from which the life story of Antony, or any saint for that matter, is told: a unity is perceived in the life of the saint -- the friendship of the saint with God -- and the whole story is told from that point of view. The saint's being devout from youth, his or her struggles with the demon and miracles, his or her virtues are all concrete expressions of friendship with God. The resultant biography is not so much a factual account of the saint's life as a theological reflection upon, and an enthusiastic presentation of, the life of the saint, who really becomes more an ideal than a person. Finally, the purpose of these biographies is to inspire readers to imitate the holiness of the saint and her or his dedication to the service of God, rather than her or his miracles and visions. Such is the structure, plot, point of view, and purpose of the lives of the saints which St. Teresa read.


St. Augustine's Confessions, which first appeared in Spanish translation in 1554, played a key role in St. Teresa's conversion experience of that same year. She wrote in the Life:

At this time they gave me The Confessions of St. Augustine. It seems the Lord ordained this, because I had not tried to procure a copy, nor had I ever seen one. I am very fond of St. Augustine . . . because he had been a sinner, for I found great consolation in sinners whom, after having been sinners, the Lord brought back to Himself ....

As I began to read the Confessions, it seemed to me I saw myself in them. I began to commend myself very much to this glorious saint. When I came to the passage where he speaks about his conversion and read how he heard that voice in the garden, it only seemed to me, according to what I felt in my heart, that it was I the Lord called. I remained for a long time totally dissolved in tears .... (72-73)

St. Teresa also testifies that the lives of the saints had a profound impact on her throughout her life. She began to read them as a child, but she continued to find them a source of assistance and encouragement throughout her life, even at the most advanced stages of the spiritual life. Throughout the Life she is conscious that her experiences are comparable to those of the saints, and that their lives are the clearest precedent for her own life and experience, for example, in chapter 38 she tells us that, like St. Paul and St. Jerome, she was granted the favor of living, with surprising intensity, the communion of saints in heaven while still on earth.

St. Teresa's portrayal of herself as a devout youth is best understood against the background of the conventions of hagiography. God is at work in the life of the one whom he calls and cares for: he provides Teresa with devout parents, awakens in her the desire for martyrdom, puts good books into her hands, and watches over her to guard her against the devil. When her desire for martyrdom is frustrated, she finds the traditional substitutes for this primordial experience: the eremetical life, almsgiving, and prayer. Teresa's youth foreshadows her later life when she is the recipient of divine favors and the friend of God.

If the lives of the saints help us to understand Teresa's youth, books 2-8 of the Confessions assist us in appreciating Teresa's adolescence, young adulthood, and middle adulthood up to 1554. From adolescence until she is thirty-nine, Teresa, like Augustine, wavers and wanders. She struggles with the conflict between her friendship with God and her attachment to the world. She experiences herself as a divided self, an experience which, it has been noted, facilitated her identification of herself with Augustine, who immediately prior to his conversion spoke of the existence and conflict of two wills within him.(15) Teresa's account of how she came to read the Confessions suggests that she herself may have considered this text to have been a divine epiphany in her regard. The Confessions come to her at a critical moment. Reading the Confessions, Teresa is struck by Augustine's struggle. It is painful for her to read about his struggle because it resonates in her own experience. Nevertheless, it is the catalyst for Teresa's liberation from the spiritual impasse in which she was trapped for eighteen years.

The remainder of the Life (chapters 10-40) is optimally read in light of the motifs of the lives of the saints. Unlike Augustine, who did not see conversion as a complete break with, and abandonment of, the past, (16) Teresa says her life from approximately 1554 on was a "new life" and that her autobiography from this point on is a "new book" (152). Now the phenomena associated with the lives of the saints, not the least of which are demonology and the miraculous, begin to occur with frequency. The importance of these phenomena, especially from Teresa's viewpoint as she was writing her life story during the period 1562-65, is that they are expressive of her friendship with God, who is guiding and directing her activity. In fact, Teresa minutely analyzes her mystical states and supernatural favors to ascertain that their origin is God and not herself or the devil. Recent research has stressed how urgent it was for Teresa, in composing her works, to establish her orthodoxy under the watchful and menacing eye of the Inquisition. As one Teresian scholar has commented: "The primitive nucleus of her autobiography is nothing else than an account intended to convince the 'letrados' [literally 'learned'; the term was commonly used at the time to refer to Scholastic theologians] that her experiences and her spirit were not of the devil."(17)

To sum up: St. Teresa's account of her life is guided by the life stories of the role models of her age and culture, the saints. She is inspired by their example, finding echoes of their lives in her own. Even her turnings and waverings have their precedents in the saints' lives.

The church continues to offer the saints as role models for Christians. The Second Vatican Council declared that the saints "offer to the faithful fitting examples for their imitation."(18) Today St. Teresa herself is offered to us as a role model. Her waverings offer us hope and encouragement in our ambivalence and struggle to live the Christian life. God's presence and activity in Teresa's life, manifested by the mystical favors he bestowed on her, remind us that he is also present and active in our lives, even if in less spectacular ways. Finally, Teresa's systematic response to grace, expressed by her tireless service to the church and to her neighbor, models for us the generosity with which we should share our talents and ourselves with one another.

  1. See Kenneth Briggs, "Seeking the Wisdom of the Mysterious West," New York Times, Sunday, 4 December 1977, sec. 4, p. 22.
  2. Kavanaugh's introduction to his and Otilio Rodriguez's translation of the Life in The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, vol. 1, The Book of Her Life, Spiritual Testimonies, and Soliloquies (Washington, D.C.: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1976), p. 28. All references are to this translation and will be given in the text of the article by citing the page number in parentheses.
  3. John W. Donohue, "St. Teresa of Avila: The Grace of Pleasing," America, 23 October 1982, p. 231.
  4. Evelyn and James Whitehead, Christian Life Patterns: The Psychological Challenges and Religious Invitations of Adult Life (Garden City: Image Books, 1982).
  5. See, e.g., Catherine Romano, "A Psycho-Spiritual History of Teresa of Avila: A Woman's Perspective," in Western Spirituality: Historical Roots, Ecumenical Routes, ed. Matthew Fox (Notre Dame: Fides/Claretian, 1979), pp. 261-95.
  6. Whitehead, Christian Life Patterns, p. 152.
  7. My discussion of Teresa's first eighteen years in religious life benefited greatly from Sr. Margaret Dorgan's thoughtful essay "St. Teresa of Avila: Woman and Waverer," Cross Currents 32 (1982): 155-59.
  8. Enda McDonagh, Doing the Truth: The Quest for Moral Theology (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1979), p. 1.
  9. See Stephen Crites, "The Narrative Quality of Experience," Journal of the American Academy of Religion 39 (1971): 291-311.
  10. See Karl J. Weintraub, "Autobiography and Historical Consciousness," Critical Inquiry 1 (1975): 821-48.
  11. The Church Teaches: Documents of the Church in English Translation, trans. J. F. Clarkson, J. H. Edwards, W. J. Kelly, and J. J. Welch (St. Louis: Herder, 1955), p. 216. My essay "St. Teresa's Presentation of Her Religious Experience" (Carmelite Studies 3 [19841: 152-88) offers a more documented and detailed study of the impact of the lives of the saints on St. Teresa's storytelling, particularly in the Interior Castle (1577), than that presented here.
  12. A good guide to the Confessions is chap. 16 of Peter Brown's excellent Augustine of Hippo: A Biography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967; paperback ed. 1969), pp. 158-81.
  13. 13 Avrom Fleishman, Figures of Autobiography: The Language of Self-Writing in Victorian and Modern England (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), pp. 58-68.
  14. The best English translation is Robert T. Meyer s, vol. 10 in the Ancient Christian Writers series (Westminster, Md.: Newman Press, 1950; reprint ed. New York, 1978). Representative of the lives of the saints St. Teresa read is Jacobus de Voragine's medieval hagiographical collection The Golden Legend, which is available in an English translation by G. Ryan and H. Ripperger (New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1941; reprint ed. Arno Press 1969).
  15. See Romano, "A Psycho-Spiritual History of Teresa of Avila," p. 286.
  16. Brown, Augustine of Hippo, pp. 177-78.
  17. Teofanes Egido, "The Historical Setting of St. Teresa's Life," Carmelite Studies 1 (1980): 130-31.
  18. Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, no. 111, in Vatican II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, ed. Austin Flannery (Northport: Costello Publishing Co., 1975), p. 31.