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Madres Carmeltias Descalzas, Alba de Tormes

  "For me, prayer is an impulse of the heart, a simple look to Heaven, a shout of appreciation and love in times of sorrow or joy."  
 
Saint Teresa of Ávila
 
 

The Discalced Carmelite Monastery of the Annunciation

This monastery was founded on January 25, 1571, by Saint Teresa of Ávila .  The restless saint Teresa spent her last fifteen days of her life in a small cell of the ground floor of the monastery where she experienced solemn encounters with God before dying on October 4, 1582.  

Although Teresa's holiness was recognized throughout Spain during her lifetime, we can say that it is through her beautiful death, where her glorious story begins.  Here, her incorrupt body is kept, along with two of her most renowned relics: her left arm and her heart.  For this reason, this Carmelite Monastery is known throughout the entire world and it is a renowned route for pilgrims and tourists.  For the friends and disciples of Teresa, it is an inescapable gathering place to drink from the same source that refreshed the masterful Teacher of Prayer.
In spite of the historical vicissitudes that this ducal town of Alba de Tormes has encountered throughout these four centuries, and although the religious followers of other convents were forced to relocate, never did the Carmelites have to leave this monastery.  Keeping in mind the most ardent desires of Teresa, this faithful community enforced the rules so that its brothers, the Discalced Carmelites, were grounded in the town, and, with them, the convent has been fully dedicated to promoting her worship, and to receiving everyone who comes near the monastery.   

In the book of The Foundations, Saint Teresa narrates the complicated process that led to the foundation of Alba which, as it is known, is owed to the patronage of Francisco Velázquez and his wife Teresa de Laiz, and to the intervention as mediators of Saint Teresa's sister Juana de Ahumada and her husband Juan de Ovalle.  On January 25, 1571, after many negotiations, the Blessed Sacrament was installed, marking this date as the true beginning of the conventional/Monastery life.  Many efforts and negotiations were left behind in order to obtain sufficient money for the convent and to maintain and upkeep of the community, like the main houses of the founders and other properties that were bought for such purposes.
When the accountants of the Dukes of Alba, who were residing in Salamanca, came to settle in Alba de Tormes, Teresa de Laiz was astonished to see in her own house, a court with a well exactly the same as those that she had seen in a dream that she had in Salamanca, where also, along with the well, Saint Andrew, saint of her devotion, had appeared.  Because of this event, in accordance with her husband, they decided to donate their house in Alba, with other bordering farmlands, since they had already promised St. Teresa that they would donate whatever she needed for the foundation.  In the patio of the inner courtyard of the convent, a well and a gallery recall this episode in Teresa de Laiz's dream.  The grill of the wall belonged to the visiting room of the convent of the Mothers of St. Elizabeth of the village.  In front of this grill is where the Velázquez couple and Teresa signed the deeds of the monastery. 

This monastery is continuously marked by the memory of Saint Teresa's presence.  When Saint Teresa arrived to the convent of Alba de Tormes around six in the afternoon September 20, 1582, she was critically ill and stayed in a cell on the bottom floor.  On Saturday, September 29,  she was moved upon her own request to another cell on the top floor of the church, behind the grill that is seen under the choir, in the top center of the frontal wall.  From this cell, she heard Mass on Sunday, the 30th, and, conscious of her critical condition,  she was heard in confession on Tuesday morning, October 2.  That the same morning, by order of the doctors, they took her again to the cell on the bottom floor.  In this cell, at five p.m. on the 3rd, she received the final Eucharist (Viaticum), having an intense spiritual experience and was anointed with Holy Oils (Extreme Unction) that night.  In the same cell Saint Teresa of Ávila passed with a cross in her hands, while the monastery solemnly struck nine p.m. on October 4, 1582.   She died the same day of the reform of the calendar of the Pope Gregorio XIII, so that the 4th became October 15th, the day on which at ten in the morning, the funeral was held in the recently completed church.  After her death, in one of the pockets of her habit, the following poem was found:

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you
All things pass away;
God never changes;
Patience can obtain anything
He who has God within,

does not lack anything;
Alone God suffices.
  

 
 
Monasterio Carmelitas Descalzas, Santa Teresa de Jesus
 
Fachada Monasterio Carmelitas Descalzas, Alba de Tomres
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