Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, and John of Avila are three Spanish saints who have much in common besides knowing each other. Each one wrote treatises on mystical theology. All were involved in the reform of the Church in Spain – Teresa and John of the Cross being the great reformers of the Carmelites, founders of the Discalced Carmelites. John of Avila was one of Teresa’s spiritual advisors. And, this October, John of Avila will join these other two saints as a doctor of the church.
But there is more. Each of them had Jewish roots and each of them suffered at the hands of the church.
John of the Cross was imprisoned by fellow Carmelites who did not want his reform. He escaped the prison and went on with his work of reform.
Teresa of Avila was investigated by the Inquisition. She was suspected of being connected with the Alumbrados, a group of mystics suspected of heresy. Another possible reason is that her family roots were Jewish. The charges against her were dismissed.
John of Avila was not so fortunate. He was a great preacher who called the church in Spain to conversion and was very critical of the rich and the accumulation of wealth. His Jewish roots also brought suspicion on him. He spent almost a year in prison, courtesy of the Inquisition.
But all are canonized and, as of October, all will be recognized as doctors of the church.
It’s very interesting how these saints who were persecuted by members of the church are now honored as doctors and teachers of the church, examples for us to follow.
A friend of mine, Todd Flowerday, is beginning a fortnight of worthy women – an response to the US Bishops Fortnight of Freedom. Catch his daily reflections at Catholic Sensibility – here.