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Gabriela Marie de la Balmondiere Cunninghame Graham.

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SANTA TERESA

HER LIFE AND TIMES



DECOR



CARMELI





GABRIELACUNNINGHAME GRAHAM






SANTA TERESA




SANTA TERESA.



SANTA TERESA

BEING SOME ACCOUNT OF

HER LIFE AND TIMES

TOGETHER WITH

SOME PAGES FROM THE HISTORY OF THE

LAST GREAT REFORM IN THE

RELIGIOUS ORDERS



BY

GABRIELA CUNNINGHAME /GRAHAM



A NEW EDITION



LONDON

EVELEIGH NASH
1907



Pocas reliquias conte',
Qua aunque acabo no comienzo ;
Hay huesos de Sant Lorenzo
Y de Sant Bartolome,
Y otros que contar no se
Que su cuento y medida ;
Mas se que puedo dar f6
Que son huesos de quien fue
De muy santfsima vida.

JUAN DE LA ENCINA.



I DEDICATE THIS BOOK

TO

Br. Bon yranrtsro U*rmo

CANON AND TREASURER OF VALLADOLID CATHEDRAL.

Not that he will agree with much or perhaps with any of it.
Still he has jogged over so many miles of Castilian roads to
trace her footsteps, and waded through so many musty volumes
to search for the minutest details of her, that I think any study
of his saint will be interesting to one whose whole life has been
a long devotion to Teresa's memory, and who may be called
" un Teresiano si los hay?



PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION

TO TERESIANS

T BELIEVE that there are still Teresians. Not, I mean,
eccentrics, lost to the world, buried in country granges,
moated by prejudice against all common-sense, as were the few
Sebastianists who, it is said, lingered in Portugal almost down
to the present century, but men who love and reverence the
saint.

I do not know if here in England there are those who sign
their letters, " your Teresian friend," as I averred there were in
Spain, when I sat down to write my preface to the first edition,
thirteen years ago. But, if there be such, it seems to me the
author of the book has done her part in the continuation of the
pious memory, by setting forth the saint, " Her Life and
Miracles," as people say in Spain of saints, in her own way.

Thirteen years ago . . . and now, sitting alone to write, with
the mild thaw wind after a long frost, singing amongst the
naked trees, just as if some one had hung up an ^Eolian harp
amongst the branches, but yet more sadly, for the yEolian harp
I hear is in the mind, my point of view about the book is still
the same as it was yesterday ; for thirteen years is yesterday,
although it seems a century, at least, in looking backwards ;
that is to say, when you look backwards without faith.

Faith, as I take it, cannot be compassed ; but either comes

vii



viii SANTA TERESA

into existence with us at our birth, or else we never find it, for
I imagine faith and belief are very different things.

Therefore, the book is not for those who, as the author says,
have made of " Teresa, the high-minded, and Teresa, the
human ; Teresa, the woman who is loved and reverenced by her
pious votaries ... a garbled image decked and obscured with
tinsel and paper flowers, and swathed about with strange super-
stitions and puerile miracles, through which we must not let the
sunlight penetrate for fear of exploding the monstrous creature
of distorted fancy."

Had Teresa de Jesus been but a mere saint, no one, in Spain
at least, the land of realism, would have been found to sign, " su
amigo Teresiano" when they wrote letters to their friends.

The calendar is stuffed with saints far more miraculous than
she, yet no one makes an adjective out of their names to place
before their signature.

Well did San Antonino, Archbishop of Florence, say, " As
for us, whose path is surrounded by shadows, to whom it is
permitted to judge of the saints by what we know and preserve
of their works, I think that none can doubt but that many of
the blessed men and women who have not been canonized by
the Church, nor even mentioned by her, have not been less
worthy nor less glorious than many who are canonized. For the
canonizing of them does not make them more worthy, nor give
them more essential glory, neither does it determine the degree
of sanctity but only that temporal honour and glory that may
accrue to them from the solemn celebration of their office and
festival, which, without this, cannot be done."

The Church indeed canonized Teresa de Jesus, but she had
already canonized herself in the hearts of the Spanish people
who, more simple than ourselves (the introspectives of the
north), saw in her life and works her real saintliness. It might



PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION ix

have been found possible to canonize her for her mere faith and
visions ; but without works there would have been no love,
certainly none of the intense love and feeling almost of relation-
ship, which still obtains amongst the simpler of her votaries,
in Spain.

Before the simple realism of Spanish faith, the modern
mysticism so far divorced from the old mystic, human spirit,
shrinks into contempt.

Well did Teresa and her nuns, well did St. Peter of Alcantara,
St. John of the Cross, and all the band of Spanish saints (even
he of Loyola, on a lower plane) know that the battle was not in
the clouds.

" These friars," says the author of the book, but the same
applies to all the glorious band of saints grouped round Teresa,
" only kept alive the great thought which philosophy in all ages
has proclaimed that the world exists not in time, but in
thought . . . they asserted the equality of man ... a lofty
Socialism." And she goes on to say, "The lives of those
obscure monks, those unknown nuns, have not been lost." That
is the true way to look at the matter ; first they were men and
women, and in the next place, saints, that is, those of them who
were canonized.

Self-abnegation, as it seems to me, is the true spirituality ;
without it, all your ecstatic visions are but a tinkling cymbal,
and they who place them first are in the same position as are
those dilettanti who prefer the turned-up eyes and sweetness
of a Carlo Dolce to the right realism of Velazquez's style. Any-
one, by taking down a volume of the Bolandists, or any of
those maudlin modern lives of "La Sainte Therese" seen
through a Gallic medium, the medium best constructed to
obscure the vision of things Spanish, can achieve a book about
the saint of Avila, which may be " spiritual," as they understand



x SANTA T,ERESA

the word. That is to say, they can leave out of sight her genius
and dwell upon her visions, as to which the saint herself was
never sure, as her own words testify most abundantly, as when
she says, " I was like one amazed, with so much tribulation and
fear whether the devil had deceived me," although at other
times she is assured that she has seen and spoken with the Lord.

One would have thought that genius was perhaps the
greatest gift that God could give, especially when joined, as in
the saint's case, with beauty, and great powers of faith, persua-
sion, and command. But no ; those who adore her virtues (that
is outside Spain, for there they make themselves no spiced con-
science) seem to take pleasure in bringing down the object of
their adoration to the same level as a hundred thousand more
friars and nuns and laymen, who have seen visions and dreamed
dreams. But, be that as it may, and take the saint on which
side of her character you will, the fact remains that in the
calendar there is no other name that, on the whole, has called
forth such enthusiasm as did the practical, hard-working, vision-
seeing Castilian gentlewoman who passed so much of her life's
pilgrimage upon the road.

On her account the writer of the book spent all the summers
ol six years, wandering about the sweet thyme-scented wastes
of Spain, sleeping in rough posadas, rising at daybreak and
jogging on a mule through the hot sun, to find in upland world-
forgotten villages a trace of the saint's footsteps, and happy,
after a long day's ride, if she came on a house where once the
saint had slept. Not so, her faithful servant Peregrina, a tall
Gallician, looking exactly like a Scotchwoman, who with the
fervent faith through which a grain of scepticism ran, as often
is the case with Spaniards of the lower class, at times addressed
the saint in terms half of devotion and half of objurgation,
promising candles for her shrine in difficulties, and telling her,



PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION xi

the danger past, in good set terms, of all that she had undergone
on her behalf. In her devotion to the foundress and to the
writer of such idiomatic prose and strangely haunting little
verses, with their jingling quaint refrain, the author learned to
read the crabbed old court hands, of which the kind known as
" la mano procesal " seems a mere wavering line, whilst others
still preserve a look of Arabic.

And as she wandered through the pine woods of Castille,
emerging now and then upon some rocky knoll from which the
hills of Piedrahita, faintly streaked with snow, were seen far off,
landmarks on the Teresian wild hill track, which leads from
Avila, by Macote'ra and Mancera de Abajo, till it emerges on the
banks of the green Tormes, close to Alba, no doubt that hunger,
heat and cold were all forgotten, and she felt animated by the
thought that the saint's covered cart had jolted on the self-same
stones, three hundred years ago.

Possibly other " Lives " of the Castilian saint may show more
faith ; but none can show more love, and love, I take it, at the
day when each receives his due reward, will outworth faith a
hundredfold, in the same way that humour outweighs wit.

No dry recital of mere facts culled from dead books, which
in the greater part have never been alive ; no rhapsodies of
mysticism can produce this kind of Life, for no one, except
perhaps some half-illuminated Spanish friar, has ever girded up
his loins to follow after the great saint of Avila through Spain.

It was the author's wish some day to illustrate the book with
her own pencil ; but as it was Teresa's chief ambition to found
a convent of her nuns, in the One Court (Madrid), a wish she
never lived to gratify, so did an unkind fate step in between the
author and her hope.

But, she had taken many photographs, and some of them
adorn the book. Thus, sadly, for where the heart is, there also



xiv SANTA TERESA

Religious lives of her, dwelling on her saintship, seem to me
to take away from the merit of the woman. It may be that
whilst dwelling on the virtues of the woman, the merits of the
saint may but appear more clearly.

R. B. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM.
GARTMORE, is/ February 1894.



CONTENTS



PAGE

INTRODUCTION . . i



CHAPTER I

TERESA'S CHILDHOOD . . . . . .66

CHAPTER II
VENITE POST ME ....... 89

CHAPTER III
THE ENCARNACION . . ..... . .107

CHAPTER IV
TERESA THE MYSTIC . . . . . .123

CHAPTER V

FERENDUM ET SPERANDUM . . . . . .157

CHAPTER VI

QUIEN NO SE ESCONDE NO LUCE . . . . .170

CHAPTER VII

WE MUST AIM AT THE HIGHEST TO ATTAIN THE LOWEST . . 196



xvi SANTA TERESA

CHAPTER VIII

PACK

FOUNDATION OF SAN Jos 22 3

CHAPTER IX
MOUNT CARMEL . . 2 43

CHAPTER X
CAMINO DE PER FECCION FOUNDATION OF MEDINA DEL CAMPO . 267

CHAPTER XI
FOUNDATION OF MALAGON . . 2 9^

CHAPTER XII

DURUELO AND FOUNDATION AT TOLEDO . 3^

CHAPTER XIII

THE FOUNDATION OF PASTRANA DIFFICULTIES WITH THE

PRINCESS OF EBOLI ..... -347

CHAPTER XIV
THE FOUNDATIONS OF SALAMANCA AND ALBA DE TORMES . 373

CHAPTER XV

LIFE IN THE ENCARNACION JOURNEY TO SALAMANCA FOUNDA-
TION AT SEGOVIA . 4 02

CHAPTER XVI
THE FATE OF THE CONVENT OF PASTRANA . . 4 2 9

CHAPTER XVII
HISTORY OF CASILDA DE PADILLA FOUNDATION OF VEAS . 437



CONTENTS xvii

CHAPTER XVIII

PAGE

SUPERABUNDO GAUDIO ....... 479



CHAPTER XIX



LETTERS FROM TOLEDO.



509



CHAPTER XX
FROM AUGUST TO CHRISTMAS DAY 1577 . . .558

CHAPTER XXI
FROM JANUARY 1578 TO CHRISTMAS DAY . . . .577

CHAPTER XXII
LA VERDAD PADECE PERO NO PERECE . . . .601

CHAPTER XXIII
DIGS E Vos ........ 615

CHAPTER XXIV
ANTES QUEBRAR QUE DOBLAR. . . . . .643

CHAPTER XXV
EL ORO FINO SE ECHARA DE VER EN EL TOQUK . . . 667

CHAPTER XXVI
THE CROWN OF THORNS AND ROSES . . . . .695

CHAPTER XXVII
NOT TO A STRANGE COUNTRY, BUT TO HER NATIVE LAND . 718



xvin SANTA TERESA

CHAPTER XXVIII



PAGE



THE PATRON SAINT OF SPAIN .

CONCLUSION

753
INVENI PORTAM .

EPILOGUE

78Q

INDEX .



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

SANTA TERESA ...... Frontispiece

WALLS OF AVILA ... . . Facing p. \

SAN VICENTE, AVILA . . . . . 8

CLOISTERS OF SAN VICENTE . . . . . 16

GATEWAY, ENCARNACION, AVILA . . . . 58

LES CUATRO POSTES, AVILA . . . . 76

GATEWAY, CONVENT OF ENCARNACION, AVILA . . 108

THE PATIO OF THE ENCARNACION, AVILA . . 114

THE WATER-WHEEL . . . . . . 182

CONVENT OF SAN JOSE, AVILA . . . . . 226

INTERIOR OF CONVENT OF SAN JOSE, AVILA . . 236

CONVENT OF MEDINA DEL CAMPO . . . 286

INTERIOR OF CONVENT CHURCH, MEDINA DEL CAMPO . 294

TANK IN THE GARDEN OF LA SERNA, NEAR AVILA . . 536

GARDEN, LA SERNA, NEAR AVILA . . . 652

CASTILLO DE LA MOTA, MEDINA DEL CAMPO . . 700



xix



SANTA TERESA



INTRODUCTION

r I A HERE is, it seems to me, a mysterious affinity and similarity
J_ between the character of Santa Teresa and the grim border
fortress of Castille that gave her birth. An age of intense
faith, an age of constant warfare, produced them both ; they
both represent to the full the spirit of their epoch. A war-
like spirit, a stormy and fighting past, is impressed on every
stone in Avila. Teresa is a true daughter of such a past.
She embodies all that is noblest, most representative, in the
Castilian character a character famed for its stern self-repres-
sion, its endurance, rectitude, sobriety, dignified simplicity and
austerity, its grave and stately courtesy. To know Avila to
wander through its streets, to watch the sun rise and set over
the sombre moorlands beyond the city walls is greatly to
know Teresa. In one of its fortress houses, where on the
shield over the gateway the bucklers of the Davilas were
quartered with the rampant lion of the Cepedas, she was born
and passed her childhood. In the cathedral which looms over
the city walls, half church, half fortress fit place in which to
praise and give thanks to the God of Battles she worshipped
and gazed with ardent eyes, and with a thrill of wonder and
terror, into the dim mysteries of its roof. In the quiet cloisters
of the Encarnacion she passed the greater part of her life of
peace and contemplation. She was thinking of the wild and
tumbled landscape of Avila, its trees, and sky, and running
water, when she wrote : " It profited me too to see fields, water,
flowers ; in these things did I find a memory of the Creator
I mean that they aroused me, tranquillised me, and were as
books." These time-stained stones, these silent cloisters all
that remains in outward bodily form of that strangely complex
age, which produced her and the gentle San Juan de la Cruz,
so different from her in character and tendencies ; together with



2 SANTA TERESA

Philip II., the gloomy and conscientious bigot who championed
them both shaped and moulded her existence, shut in and
controlled her life. Most meet background for her whose whole
life was to be one long battle, this city of warriors and knights
their very memory all so shadowy.

Of all the cities that break up the monotonous surface of
Castille, none so characteristic, none impresses the imagination
more profoundly than Avila. Hung between earth and sky,
clustered around its gray cathedral, on the last spur of the
Guadarramas, dominating the wildest, bleakest uplands in
Castille; a city such as Van Eyck painted, or some quaint
illuminator drew with minute hand on the yellow pages of a
missal. Seen from afar it might be some phantom city, such
as the Indians tell of in Mexico or in the Andes; or a fantastic
rock balanced on the crag it clings to. Houses and boulders
jumbled together, the very surface of the streets broken and
pierced with rocks. The brown parameras at her feet are
covered with craggy rocks. Gray rocky landscape, gray rocky
towers, natural and chiselled rocks in jagged outline against
the sky. " Cantos y santos " goes the proverb alas ! the saints
are gone, the stones alone remain. If it be true that as Christ
passed through Avila he shed tears as he saw the barrenness
and nakedness of the soil, which were thereupon congealed
into rocks, then indeed must he have wept long and bitterly
over its melancholy plains. On the highest point of the rock,
half church, half fortress, its apse forming a flanking tower to
the walls, the cathedral looms high over the city it defends
a shrine to watch and pray in. Clustering under its shadow is
the town : obscure tortuous labyrinths of lanes and narrow
streets ; lines of gloomy houses ; round-headed or square gate-
ways overhung by proud escutcheons; here and there some
round Mudejar 1 tower rising high above the roof no doubt
what it was meant for to scan the neighbouring sierras.

From the cathedral the walls, not more than half a mile
asunder at their widest point, follow the sinuous movement of
the ridge on either side, enclosing the face of the hill, until
sweeping down, sharply narrowing as they go, they overhang
the bridge of the Adaja and guard its entrance. To the north-
west, at first following the course of the river its placid current
broken by water-mills almost as Moorish as those of Cordoba

1 The Mudejares were the conquered Moors left in the territories re-taken by
the Christians, and allowed to retain their own faith and customs with some restric-
tions they continued in Spain until the expulsion in 1609. Avila was full of Mude-
iares ' The style of architecture called Mudejar is a debased Moorish : note the
church tower of San Andres in Avila. The word is from the Arabic, mudejal, and
its derivative mudejalat.



INTRODUCTION 3

then leaving it in the hollow behind, until the tips of the
poplars that line its banks alone are visible, a devious path
winds over the granite-strewn waste, amidst thyme and rose-
mary, to the Convent of the Encarnacion. Over against the
bridge, straight in front of us, where the diligence roads to
Salamanca and Piedrahita (both modern) separate the one to
the right, the other to the left of it some ventas at the bottom
of a sandy hill still mark the beginning of the steep ascent,
the only communication in Teresa's time between Avila and the
back-lying country between it and Alba de Tormes. A little
to one side of it Los Cuatro Postes "the four columns"
indicate the spot where her childish journey to martyrdom was
brought to an abrupt conclusion. The narrow high-pitched
bridge Teresa knew is gone. Gone, too, the little hermitage of
San Lazaro, dear to her childhood, that guarded its entrance
to the old-fashioned faith of that age as potent a protection as
the walls. Opposite the bridge still the place, as in ancient
times, to watch the current of human life flow in and out of
Avila is the deep-mouthed gateway, once shut and barred at
nightfall. Unlucky the traveller overtaken by night before he
reached the town ; for until daybreak, none might enter or
leave it. The deep shadow of this gateway frames a sunlit
street, narrow and tortuous, deserted and silent, creeping up the
hill in aerial perspective, between high walls fissured with time
and baked by the heat into indefinable gradations of colour.
Let us follow it into the town. Behind these walls, enclosed
between them and the walls of the town itself, as you may see
by peeping through a chink in some mouldering doorway, the
ground is partly covered with the ddbris and rubbish of what
once were houses, interspersed where possible with patches of
cultivation. Perhaps some little house with its characteristic
Moorish lattice, before which a fig-tree, luxuriant and neglected,
flings its leafy boughs, lies huddled beneath a sunny terrace.
In Teresa's time this street, which rarely to-day echoes to the
footsteps of a chance passer-by, was thickly inhabited by an
industrious and harmless population of Mudejares and Jews.
Then it was the main artery of the town, the central line between
the walls. Through that sombre and silent gateway at the
bridge once flowed the stream of the quaint mediaeval life of
Castille : strange processions of mailed and plumed warriors ;
hunting parties with hawks and hounds ; bishops in full ponti-
ficals, surrounded by kneeling crowds ; a tide of travellers
whose weary footsteps left a mark on the rough causeway ere
they went their way on their endless journey out of the memory
of men and Avila. To-day, a few donkeys enter or emerge



4 SANTA TERESA

through its shadow, their drivers labourers and peasants, who
with the characteristic costume of the country, preserve, across
so many ages, the peculiar dignity and stateliness of another
world the tight knee-breeches tied in at the knee with a bunch
of ribbons ; the short jackets, black or brown, scorched by the
sun into many hues ; the " abarcas " (sandals) fastened to the
legs with strips of leather : or fresh-coloured serranas from those
little gray villages hidden in the sierras, who still wear their
national dress with the arrogance and grace natural to their
race the short scarlet or yellow petticoat, the low velvet bodice,
the massive earrings of rare and intricate workmanship. All
this still lingers, impregnated with the perfume of the past, the
only link between it and the present a past which is destined
soon to fade away, even in this remote and little-visited district
of Castille. They are all that remain of the life Teresa knew.
The knights have gone : long ago they have mouldered to dust
under their alabaster tombs in the cathedral. The peasant
alone remains unchanged : his ways of life, his dress, his proverbs,
his strange wild legends, in no wise different from his ancestor
who drove his donkey or yoke of oxen through the postern gate
opposite to the house of one Alonso de Cepeda. The same Gil,
Pascual, Bras, Llorente, and Menga ; the same tawny herdsmen
clothed in sheepskin, and ruddy-faced zagalas (lasses, Arabice),
who celebrated Christ's birth and resurrection in the simple
"letrillas" Teresa wrote for her nuns at those great festivals,
whose homely composition and rustic language and allusions'
have so shocked her superfine and learned commentators. For
her the birth of Christ took place not in Jewish Bethlehem, but
in some rude sheep-cot lost among the folds of the great
Castilian sierras covered with the first fine sprinkling of snow.
For her the star of great magnitude, which rose in the midnight
heavens of Judea, shed its mystic radiance over the frosty
deserts of Castille.

Landscape, town, cathedral, people, and climate alike
rigid, gray, fierce, storm-tossed. Snow, hail, and storms of
wind and rain sweep over the arid plains from October to
June, succeeded by a fierce period of African heat. The
tender gradations of spring and autumn are unknown. To
the climate and physical configuration of the country may
be ascribed the peculiar type of the serrano of Avila hardy,
robust, fresh-complexioned, wiry and clean-limed; the wild
and guttural ring of his distinctive accent.

Stand with me a moment amongst the stunted rose-bushes
in the little alameda under the walls, on the extreme southern
ridge of the hill.



INTRODUCTION 5

Beneath us, clinging to its face as to a staircase so steep
as to be in many places inaccessible, lie the quarters of San
Nicolas, Santiago, and Las Vacas, grouped around their
respective churches. To the left, glimmering on its hillside,
is the shrine of the Virgin of Sonsoles. Facing us is the
pleasant Valle Ambles, studded with little hamlets and dark
patches of pine forest, shut in by the scarred sides and gorges
of the grim sierras of Avila, Menga, and Villatoro. That thin
blue line to the south-west is the strange and enormous range
known as the Sierras de Credos the barrier between Avila
and Estremadura. To this day the fastnesses of the Credos
remain virtually unexplored. On their summit, hemmed in
by the peaks of Los Dos Hermanos de Credos, lies an ice-
bound lake, its unfathomed depths looked upon with instinctive
and peculiar horror. Here lingers the Capra Hispanica, extinct
almost everywhere else in Spain. Over this gloomy, unhallowed
region brooded in Teresa's time (as it does still, to a less extent)
all the mystery of the unknown. Superstition and ignorance
lend a thousand fantastic terrors to the wild and horrible
legends told by the peasants under their breath round the
blazing hearth of a winter's night, and to which Teresa as a
child must so often have listened.

As the sun grows low in the horizon, the landscape is
filled with an indefinable charm. The little houses and



Online LibraryGabriela Marie de la Balmondiere Cunninghame GrahamSanta Teresa : being some account of her life and times : together with some pages from the history of the last great reform in the religious orders → online text (page 1 of 88)