The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus

Relation II. -To One of Her Confessors, from the House of Doña Luisa de la Cerda, in 1562.[1]


I think it is more than a year since this was written; God has all this time protected me with His hand, so that I have not become worse; on the contrary, I see a great change for the better in all I have to say: may He be praised for it all!

1. The visions and revelations have not ceased, but they are of a much higher kind. Our Lord has taught me a way of prayer, wherein I find myself far more advanced, more detached from the things of this life, more courageous, and more free. [2] I fall into a trance more frequently, for these ecstasies at times come upon me with great violence, and in such a way as to be outwardly visible, I having no power to resist them; and even when I am with others−−for they come in such a way as admits of no disguising them, unless it be by letting people suppose that, as I am subject to disease of the heart, they are fainting−fits; I take great pains, however, to resist them when they are coming on−−sometimes I cannot do it.

2. As to poverty, God seems to have wrought great things in me; for I would willingly be without even what is necessary, unless given me as an alms; and therefore my longing is extreme that I may be in such a state as to depend on alms alone for my food. It seems to me that to live, when I am certain of food and raiment without fail, is not so complete an observance of my vow or of the counsel of Christ as it would be to live where no revenue is possessed, and I should be in want at times; and as to the blessings that come with true poverty, they seem to me to be great, and I would not miss them. Many times do I find myself with such great faith, that I do not think God will ever fail those who serve Him, and without any doubt whatever that there is, or can be, any time in which His words are not fulfilled: I cannot persuade myself to the contrary, nor can I have any fear; and so, when they advise me to accept an endowment, I feel it keenly, and betake myself unto God.

3. I think I am much more compassionate towards the poor than I used to be, having a great pity for them and a desire to help them; for if I regarded only my good will, I should give them even the habit I wear. I am not fastidious with respect to them, even if I had to do with them or touched them with my hands,−−and this I now see is a gift of God; for though I used to give alms for His love, I had no natural compassion. I am conscious of a distinct improvement herein.

4. As to the evil speaking directed against me,−−which is considerable, and highly injurious to me, and done by many,−−I find myself herein also very much the better. I think that what they say makes scarcely any more impression upon me than it would upon an idiot. I think at times, and nearly always, that it is just. I feel it so little that I see nothing in it that I might offer to God, as I learn by experience that my soul gains greatly thereby; on the contrary, the evil speaking seems to be a favour. And thus, the first time I go to prayer, I have no ill−feeling against them; the first time I hear it, it creates in me a little resistance, but it neither disturbs nor moves me; on the contrary, when I see others occasionally disturbed, I am sorry for them. So it is, I put myself out of the question; for all the wrongs of this life seem to me so light, that it is not possible to feel them, because I imagine myself to be dreaming, and see that all this will be nothing when I awake.

5. God is giving me more earnest desires, a greater love of solitude, a much greater detachment, as I said, with the visions; by these He has made me know what all that is, even if I gave up all the friends I have, both men and women and kindred. This is the least part of it: my kindred are rather a very great weariness to me; I leave them in all freedom and joy, provided it be to render the least service unto God; and thus on every side I find peace.

6. Certain things, about which I have been warned in prayer, have been perfectly verified. Thus, considering the graces received from God, I find myself very much better; but, considering my service to Him in return, I am exceedingly worthless, for I have received greater consolation than I have given, though sometimes that gives me grievous pain. My penance is very scanty, the respect shown me great, much against my own will very often. [3] However in a word, I see that I live an easy, not a penitential, life; God help me, as He can!

7. It is now nine months, more or less, since I wrote this with mine own hand; since then I have not turned my back on the graces which God has given me; I think I have received, so far as I can see, a much greater liberty of late. Hitherto I thought I had need of others, and I had more reliance on worldly helps. Now I clearly understand that all men are bunches of dried rosemary, and that there is no safety in leaning on them, for if they are pressed by contradictions or evil speaking they break down. And so I know by experience that the only way not to fall is to cling to the cross, and put our trust in Him who was nailed thereto. I find Him a real Friend, and with Him I find myself endowed with such might that, God never failing me, I think I should be able to withstand the whole world if it were against me.

8. Having a clear knowledge of this truth, I used to be very fond of being loved by others; now I do not care for that, yea, rather, their love seems to weary me in some measure, excepting theirs who take care of my soul, or theirs to whom I think I do good. Of the former I wish to be loved, in order that they may bear with me; and of the latter, that they may be more inclined to believe me when I tell them that all is vanity.

9. In the very grievous trials, persecutions, and contradictions of these months, [4] God gave me great courage; and the more grievous they were, the greater the courage, without weariness in suffering. Not only had I no ill−feeling against those who spoke evil of me, but I had, I believe, conceived a deeper affection for them. I know not how it was; certainly it was a gift from the hand of our Lord.

10. When I desire anything, I am accustomed naturally to desire it with some vehemence; now my desires are so calm, that I do not even feel that I am pleased when I see them fulfilled. Sorrow and joy, excepting in that which relates to prayer, are so moderated, that I seem to be without sense, and in that state I remain for some days.

11. The vehement longings to do penance which come, and have come, upon me are great; and if I do any penance, I feel it to be so slight in comparison with that longing, that I regard it sometimes, and almost always, as a special consolation; however, I do but little, because of my great weakness.

12. It is a very great pain to me very often, and at this moment most grievous, that I must take food, particularly if I am in prayer. It must be very great, for it makes me weep much, and speak the language of affliction, almost without being aware of it, and that is what I am not in the habit of doing, for I do not remember that I ever did so in the very heaviest trials of my life: I am not a woman in these things, for I have a hard heart.

13. I feel in myself a very earnest desire, more so than usual, that God may find those who will serve Him, particularly learned men, in all detachment, and who will not cleave to anything of this world, for I see it is all a mockery; for when I see the great needs of the Church, I look upon it as a mockery to be distressed about aught else. I do nothing but pray to God for such men, because I see that one person, who is wholly perfect in the true fervour of the love of God, will do more good than many who are lukewarm.

14. In matters concerning the faith, my courage seems to me much greater. I think I could go forth alone by myself against the Lutherans, and convince them of their errors. I feel very keenly the loss of so many souls. I see many persons making great progress; I see clearly it was the pleasure of God that such progress should have been helped by me; and I perceive that my soul, of His goodness, grows daily more and more in His


15. I think I could not be led away by vainglory, even if I seriously tried, and I do not see how I could imagine any one of my virtues to be mine, for it is not long since I was for many years without any at all; and now so far as I am concerned, I do nothing but receive graces, without rendering any service in return, being the most worthless creature in the world. And so it is that I consider at times how all, except myself, make progress; I am good for nothing in myself. This is not humility only, but the simple truth; and the knowledge of my being so worthless makes me sometimes think with fear that I must be under some delusion. Thus I see clearly that all my gain has come through the revelations and the raptures, in which I am nothing myself, and do no more to effect them than the canvas does for the picture painted on it. This makes me feel secure and be at rest; and I place myself in the hands of God, and trust my desires; for I know for certain that my desires are to die for Him, and to lose all ease, and that whatever may happen.

16. There are days wherein I remember times without number the words of St. Paul, [5]−−though certainly they are not true of me,−−that I have neither life, nor speech, nor will of my own, but that there is One in me by whom I am directed and made strong; and I am, as it were, beside myself, and thus life is a very grievous burden to me. And the greatest oblation I make to God, as the highest service on my part, is that I, when I feel it so painfully to be absent from Him, am willing to live on for the love of Him. I would have my life also full of great tribulations and persecutions; now that I am unprofitable, I should like to suffer; and I would endure all the tribulations in the world to gain ever so little more merit−−I mean, by a more perfect doing of His will.

17. Everything that I have learnt in prayer, though it may be two years previously, I have seen fulfilled. What I see and understand of the grandeurs of God, and of the way He has shown them, is so high, that I scarcely ever begin to think of them but my understanding fails me,−−for I am as one that sees things far higher than I can understand,−−and I become recollected.

18. God so keeps me from offending Him, that I am verily amazed at times. I think I discern the great care He takes of me, without my taking scarcely any care at all, being as I was, before these things happened to me, a sea of wickedness and sins, and without a thought that I was mistress enough of myself to leave them undone. And the reason why I would have this known is that the great power of God might be made manifest. Unto Him be praise for ever and ever! Amen.


This Relation here set forth, not in my handwriting, is one that I gave to my confessor, and which he with his own hand copied, without adding or diminishing a word. He was a most spiritual man and a theologian: I discussed the state of my soul with him, and he with other learned men, among whom was Father Mancio. [6] They found nothing in it that is not in perfect agreement with the holy writings. This makes me calm now, though, while God is leading me by this way, I feel that it is necessary for me to put no trust whatever in myself. And so I have always done, though it is painful enough. You, my father, will be careful that all this goes under the seal of confession, according to my request.

1. Addressed, it is believed, to her confessor, F. Pedro Ibañez. This Relation corresponds with ch. xxxiv. of the Life (De la Fuente).

2. See Life, ch. xxvii.

3. See Life, ch. xxxi. § 15.

  1. The Saint is supposed to refer to the troubles she endured during the foundation of the monastery of St. Joseph.

  1. Gal. ii. 20: "Vivo autem, jam non ego; vivit vero in me Christus."

  2. A celebrated Dominican, professor of theology in Salamanca (Bouix).

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