Teresa de Ávila

Installation, Graphics

Fascinated by Teresa of Avila’s handwriting, I began to search for her writings. Teresa probably spent most of her life writing, a skill which for her as woman of great literary talent also meant the most important means of communication in the field of theology,  as well as in establishing networks as the founder of 19 monasteries which also took her into the area of economics and organization. She wrote more than 10,000 letters, roughly 500 of which have been preserved – to her brothers, friends and confidants, to university professors, benefactors, sponsors and even to King Philipp II. – often drafting important letters three times. Compared with today’s digital means of communication, writing letters involved  immeasurably more effort, starting off by mixing the ink and sharpening the quills.

Thanks to Provincial Superior, Father Roberto M. Pirastu of the Carmelite Monastery in Vienna- Döbling, I was able to borrow, photograph, copy and graphically process the facsimile edition of the “Camino de perfección”, first version, Codex Escorial (Burgos 2010).  In terms of content, I involved myself with the interesting, educational work on personality development that Teresa wrote for her fellow sisters at San José, the first reform monastery she founded (principle of poverty and equality).

This, her first book is a work in which she addresses much that she was later to develop further in her seminal masterpiece “The Interior Castle”. She dedicates herself here primarily to her main theme, the inner prayer/’oración mental’, a personal debate with Jesus, which was encouraged by reform monasteries at that time but which was regarded as suspicious, especially when practiced by women.

She does not hold back in her criticism of male dominance in the Church either. By corresponding and maintaining a discourse with leading theologians such as Jerónimo Gracián and John of the Cross, her most important confidant, she was well versed in theological matters.

To this day, many women all over the world are still denied access to writing, reading and education.

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