"Simply I learned about Wisdom, and ungrudgingly do I share - her riches I do not hide away;
For to men she is an unfailing treasure;
those who gain this treasure win the friendship of God,
to whom the gifts they have from discipline commend them."
- Wisdom 7:13-14

“This woman was so great and so useful to the healthy education of Christians, which seems to be either not very or not at all inferior to those great fathers and doctors (Gregory the Great, John Chrysostom, Anselm of Canterbury) of the Church, which we have pointed out.”– St. Pius X.

Time and again expressed by the various Supreme Pontiffs with words of their high esteem on the excellence of St. Teresa’s doctrine, finally in the September 27, 1970 Apostolic Letter “MULTIFORMIS SAPIENTIA DEI”(in English: “Manifold Wisdom of God”), Blessed Pope Paul VI solemnly proclaimed Saint Teresa of Jesus, the Virgin of Avila, Doctor of the Church.

Recognizing her outstanding holiness and spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit for the renewal and building up of the Church, Blessed Pope Paul VI declares her “first among women” for “her knowledge and doctrine of divine things” and “has confidence and trust that Teresa of Jesus, who was declared a solemn decree Teacher of Christian life, will also strongly stimulate the people of our time to grow in the love of contemplation in the soul and to the attainment of heavenly things.”

After her own conversion and the reform of her Carmelite Order for which she suffered many great difficulties, she devoted herself to teach others the way of a holy life with prayers and mortification for the good of the Church. She is distinguished for her prudence, evangelical simplicity, humbleness of mind and perfect obedience to superiors even in the most difficult things. With great eagerness for the spiritual good of others and to be of help to them, she did not hesitate to sacrifice herself to live a hard and austere life, to be patient in adverse events, yet always full of joy and grateful to God who has intimately captivated her love. She fully embraced the advice of the Church and was always in faithful and humble obedience to God’s ministers. Her constant familiarity with God is said to shine always on her face and made her always appears bright and joyful. Of human virtues, she tried strongly to tell the truth, not speaking evil of others, keep her word and always full of joy and kindness. In spite of her commitments and continual labors, she still found time and strength to write excellent works of supreme doctrine.

The excellence of her teachings drew great admiration though she repeatedly declared her inability to understand and to teach. Yet, she was able to understand, to teach and to write, inspired by God, on very deep issues, believing that Christ was the only source of her doctrine and her living book. She was able to penetrate deeply into the mystery of Christ and with great acuteness and wisdom had knowledge of the human soul - clearly indicating the definite presence and power of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in her works. The usefulness and authority of her doctrine extends beyond the boundaries of the Catholic Church and reaches even the non-believers.

Among her many titles, she was conferred the honor as Teacher of Prayer. She is also called Doctor of Mystical Theology for in a report to Blessed Pope Paul VI, the Roman Rota declared: "Teresa has been given to the Church by God as a teacher of the spiritual life. The mysteries of the inner mystical life which the holy Fathers propounded unsystematically and without orderly sequence, she has presented with unparalleled clarity."


St. Teresa of Avila - First Woman Doctor of the Church
Keith J. Egan, Ph.D., Aquinas Chair of Catholic Theology Emeritus, St. Mary's College. This presentation on Saturday, October 8, 2011, was a part of the Saturdays with the Saints series sponsored by the Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame.