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An exceptional woman

· Francis for the fifth centenary of St Teresa of Jesus ·

An “exceptional woman” and an “attractive model of total donation to God” is the portrait that Pope Francis painted of Teresa of Jesus in the letter sent to the Provost General of the Order of Discalced Carmelites for the 500th anniversary of the birth of the Saint of Avila.

On Saturday, 28 March, after joining in the yearly “hour of prayer for peace” promoted in all Carmelite communities throughout the world, the Pontiff wrote to Fr Saverio Cannistrà, recalling that the Saint Teresa's anniversary coincided with the Year of Consecrated Life, in which she was and is among the most attractive examples.

In describing the figure of the Saint, the Pope noted in particular the prayerful, missionary, ecclesial and communitary dimensions of her spirituality. St Teresa is, first and foremost, he said, a “master of prayer”. Indeed “the humanity of Christ was central to her experience. Moved by the desire to share this personal experience with others, she describes it in a lively and simple manner, within reach of all”. He emphasized that her prayer “was not one reserved to only one space or one moment of the day” but, on the contrary, “arose spontaneously on many different occasions”.

For this reason,St Teresa asks us by her example “to be persevering, faithful, even in the midst of aridity, of personal difficulties or of the urgent needs that call to us”.

In the missionary and ecclesial dimensions which have always distinguished the Carmelite religious family, “the Saint opens new horizons for us, she convokes us for a great undertaking, in order to look at the world through Christ’s eyes, to seek what He seeks and to love what He loves”.

“St Teresa knew”, the Pontiff affirmed, “that neither prayer nor mission could be sustained without an authentic communitary life. Therefore, she placed fraternity at the foundation of her monasteries”.

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