St. Teresa of Avila – Dominant Figure in Mexican Catholicism
Teresa was born in Avila, Spain in 1515 and became the most dominant figure in Spanish religious culture. Her image figures in most every church in San Miguel de Allende.
Teresa became a Carmelite nun and wrote extensively on finding God in everyday life and living in the present. She became famous for her ecstasies when she would find total pleasure in the presence of God levitating feet about the floor.
In art Teresa is identifiable by her brown Carmelite uniform, including a scapular, and holding a feather pen (to indicate her writings). Normally she is barefoot indicating the more cloistered order of Carmelites dedicated to St. Joseph she started identified from other Carmelites by not wearing shoes. Or, Teresa is shown in an orgasmic state of ecstasy experiencing the joy of God’s presence.
Saint Teresa’s former ownership and devotion to the esteemed religious image called the Infant of Prague is another of her influences on Mexico.
She died in 1582 and quickly became a saint, and later, a doctor of the Church. Though her feast day is not widely celebrated in San Miguel de Allende her impact on the Spanish Catholic faith permeates, particularly in the feminization of faith and the presence of her image, and the Infant of Prague’s, in countless local churches.