In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of Saint Teresa of Ávila as a Doctor of the Church, Pope Francis highlighted her importance even today— especially in embodying the role of women in the Church and in society.
Opening his message to Archbishop Gil Tamayo of Ávila, Spain, Pope Francis noted that St. Teresa was the first woman to become a Doctor of the Church. (Read: A Prayer on the Memorial of St. Teresa of Ávila)
He said the title was a recognition of the “precious teaching that God has transmitted to us through her writings and the testimony of her life.”
Courageous Witness, Able to Break Down Walls
Pope Francis wrote in his message that even now, nearly half a millennium since St. Teresa’s death in 1582, “the flame that Jesus lit in Teresa continues to shine in this world, always in need of courageous witnesses, capable of breaking down any wall, whether physical, existential or cultural.”
He also cited her intelligence and tenacity, which she joined with “a sensitivity to beauty and a spiritual motherhood toward all those who approached her work.” (Read: These Rural Women Are Making a Difference in Their Communities)
The Pope added that St. Teresa was an example of the “extraordinary role that women have played throughout history in the Church and in society.”
A Message for Those Who Seek Purification
Saint Teresa of Ávila still speaks to us today, thanks to her writings. Pope Francis noted that her message and example are for everyone, “for those who feel the call to religious life,” but also “for all those who wish to progress on the path of purification from all worldliness, which leads to union with God, to the lofty abodes of the interior castle.”
“Having her as a friend companion and guide in our earthly pilgrimage confers security and tranquility,” he said. (Read: Pope Calls for More Women Participation in Church Affairs)
The Pope concluded his message by recalling Teresa’s great devotion to St. Joseph and by encouraging all the faithful to continue to look deeper into her message and teachings.
Text by Vatican News staff writer.