Teresa of Avila is renowned as a great saint, the foundress of the Discalced Carmelites and a Doctor of the Church. In this very accessible edition of the first volume of her autobiography, we meet a frivolous teenager, who became a frivolous nun at twenty-one, hoping thereby to avoid marriage and childbearing and attain heaven, without too much effort. She writes engagingly and honestly, allowing us to follow her struggles with not only her health, but with the conflict between her desire for a life of prayer in a real relationship with God and her attachment to the comforts and distractions of her not- at- all strict convent. She shares with us her moment of fully giving herself to God in her late thirties, after which she describes ‘the four waters of prayer’. Her determined desire to help others join her in this life of prayer and complete trust in Divine Providence led her to found the first convent of Discalced Carmelites when she was forty-seven. Such is her style of writing, and Elizabeth Ruth Obbard’s interpretation of it, that one feels as if reading a personal letter, heart speaking to heart.
Elizabeth Ruth Obbard was born into an army family and educated in England and Germany. After completing her schooling, she entered the Carmelite Order where she has been a contemplative nun for many years and is currently living in the Carmelite monastery in Quidenham, Norfolk. She has written and illustrated many books, particularly on the lives of saints.