Continues the same subject and tells of the great favours which the Lord has shown her. Describes His promises to her on behalf of persons for whom she might pray to Him. Tells of some outstanding respects in which His Majesty has granted her this favour.

I was once earnestly importuning the Lord to give sight to a person to whom I was under a certain obligation and who was almost entirely blind; I was very sorry for him and feared that the Lord would not hear me because of my sins. He appeared to me as on former occasions, began by showing me the wound in His left hand, and then, with the other hand, drew out a large nail which was embedded in it, in such a way that in drawing out the nail He seemed to me to be tearing the flesh. It was clear how very painful this must be and I was sorely grieved at it. Then He said to me that surely, if He had borne that for me, He would even more readily do whatever I asked Him; that He promised me I should never ask Him anything which He would not grant; that He knew I should never ask anything that did not tend to His glory; and that therefore He would do what I was now asking of Him. I must remember, He added, that, even in the days when I did not serve Him, I had never asked Him for anything which He had not granted in a better way than I could have planned; how much more readily still would He not do it now that He knew I loved Him? Of that I must have no doubt. I do not think a full week had passed before the Lord restored that person's sight. My confessor heard of it at once. It may not, of course, have been due to my prayer; but, as I had seen this vision, I felt certain that it was a favour granted to me and I gave His Majesty thanks for it.

On another occasion there was a person[1] very ill with a most painful malady, which, as I do not know its exact nature, I shall not now describe. His sufferings for two months had been intolerable and he was in such torture that he would lacerate his own body. My confessor, the Rector I have mentioned, who went to see him, was very sorry for him and told me that I must certainly pay him a visit -- and it was possible for me to do this, as he was a relative of mine. I went and was moved to such pity for him that I began with great importunity to beg the Lord to cure him. This showed me clearly the way in which, as I firmly believe, He favours me, for, on the very next day, my relative was completely free from that pain.

I was once in the deepest affliction because I learned that a person to whom I was under great obligations wanted to do something which militated grievously against God and His honour and was firmly resolved that he would. I was so worried about this that I did not know what means I could employ to dissuade him: it seemed, in fact, that there were none. I besought God from the bottom of my heart to give me some such means, but until I found them I could get no relief from my distress. While things were in that position, I went to a very lonely hermitage, of which this convent has a number, and which contains a representation of Christ bound to the Column, and there I begged Him to grant me this favour. Then I heard a very soft voice, speaking to me, as it were, in a whisper. My whole body quivered with fear and I tried to catch what the voice was saying, but I could not, and very soon it was gone. My fear quickly left me, and, when it had passed, I experienced a calm, a joy and an inward delight, and it amazed me that the mere hearing of a voice with the bodily ears, unaccompanied by any understanding of what it said, should have such an effect upon the soul. I saw by this that what I was asking of God was to be granted me, and, although this had not then been done, my distress was as completely removed as if it had been. I told my confessors of it -- for at that time I had two, very learned men and servants of God.[2]

There was someone who I knew had resolved to serve God in very truth; for some days he had been engaged in prayer, in the course of which His Majesty had granted him many favours. But certain occasions of sin then presented themselves and, instead of withdrawing himself from these occasions of sin, which were very perilous, he gave up his prayer. This caused me the greatest distress, for he was a person whom I dearly loved and to whom I was much indebted. I believe more than a month passed during which I did nothing but beg God to turn this soul to Himself. One day, when I was at prayer, I saw beside me a devil, in a great fury, tearing up some papers which he held in his hand. This brought me great comfort, for I thought it meant that what I had been praying for was granted me. And so it was, for I afterwards learned that this man had made a very contrite confession and had so truly turned to God that I hope in His Majesty that he will make continual progress. Blessed be He for everything! Amen.

In answer to my supplications Our Lord has frequently delivered souls from grave sins, and has led others to greater perfection. As to rescuing souls from purgatory and doing other such notable things, the favours which He has granted me here are so numerous that I should be fatiguing myself, and fatiguing the reader too, if I were to describe them. Many more of them have concerned the health of the soul than the health of the body. This fact has been generally recognized and there have been numerous witnesses to it. It used to cause me great scruples, for I could not help believing that the Lord was doing this because of my prayers -- apart, of course, from the chief reason, which is His pure goodness. But now these favours have become so numerous and have been observed by so many people that it causes me no distress to believe this. I praise His Majesty and I grow ashamed, because I see I am more His debtor than ever, and I believe He increases my desires to serve Him and revives my love for Him. What astonishes me most has to do with favours which the Lord sees are not good for me: even if I try to do so, I am unable to beg Him to grant me these; when I attempt it, my prayers have very little power or spirituality or concentration; and, however much I try to force myself to do more, I cannot. Yet, when it comes to other things which His Majesty means to grant, I find that I can ask for these often and with great importunity, and though I may not be specially thinking of them they seem to come to my mind.

There is a great difference between these two ways of praying, which I do not know how to explain. When I pray for the first kind of favour, I may persist in forcing myself to beg the Lord for it, yet, even if it is a thing which touches me nearly, I do not feel that I have the same fervour as in praying for the other kind. I am like a person whose tongue is tied: desire to speak as he may, he cannot, or if he does so he cannot make himself understood. In the other case I am like a person speaking clearly and alertly to someone whom he sees to be eagerly listening to him. The first type of prayer, we might say, is like vocal prayer; the other is like contemplation so sublime that the Lord reveals Himself, and so we know His Majesty is hearing us and rejoicing at what we are asking of Him and delighting to bestow it upon us. May He be blessed for ever, Who gives so much when I give Him so little. For what can a man accomplish, my Lord, who does not wholly abase himself for Thy sake?[3] How far -- oh, how far, how very far! I could say it a thousand times -- am I from doing this! It is because I am not living as I should, in view of what I owe Thee, that I cannot desire to live at all, though there are other reasons for this also. How many imperfections do I find in myself! How feebly do I serve Thee! Sometimes I could really wish I were devoid of sense, for then I should not understand how much evil is in me. May He Who is able to do so grant me succor!

While I was in the house of that lady whom I have mentioned,[4] I had to be careful of my behaviour and constantly bear in mind the vanity inseparable from everything in this life, because of the high esteem and the great praise which were bestowed on me and the numerous things to which, had I looked only to myself, I might have become attached. But He Who sees things in their true light looked favourably upon me and suffered me not to escape out of His hand.

Speaking of seeing things in their true light, I call to mind the great trials which have to be borne in their dealings with others by persons to whom God has given a knowledge of what is meant by truth in earthly matters; for on earth, as the Lord once said to me, there is so much dissembling. Much that I am writing here does not come out of my own head; I have been told it by this Heavenly Master of mine; and so, in places where I distinctly say "I was told this" or "The Lord told me", I am extremely scrupulous about adding or subtracting so much as a single syllable. When I do not remember everything exactly, then, it must be understood that it comes from me and some of the things I say will come from me altogether. Anything that is good I do not attribute to myself, for I know there is nothing good in me save what the Lord has given me without my deserving it. When I say that a thing has "come from me", I mean that it was not told me in a revelation.

But, O my God, how is it that even in spiritual matters we often try to interpret things in our own way, as if they were worldly things, and distort their true meaning? We think we can measure our progress by the number of years during which we have been practising prayer. We even seem to be trying to set a measure to Him Who bestows on us measureless gifts, and Who can give more to one person in six months than to another in many years. This is something which I have so-often observed, and in so many people, that I am amazed to find we can act so pettily.

I am quite sure that no one will be deceived in this way for long if he has a gift for the discernment of spirits and if the Lord has given him true humility: such a person will judge these spirits by their fruits and their resolutions and their love, and the Lord will give him light to recognize these. What He considers here is not the years which people have spent in prayer but the extent to which their souls have advanced and made progress; for one soul can attain as much in six months as another in twenty years, since, as I say, the Lord gives to whom He wills and also to him who is best prepared to receive. I find at present that among those coming to this convent are a number of girls, quite young in years.[5] God touches their hearts and gives them a little light and love -- I mean, during some short period in which He has granted them consolation in prayer. They have not been expecting this and they put aside evens other consideration, forgetting even their meals, and shut themselves up for good in a convent that has no money, like people who make no account of their lives for the sake of Him Who they know loves them. They give up everything; they have no wish to follow their own desires; and it never occurs to them that they may grow discontented in a place so circumscribed and so strictly enclosed. They offer themselves wholly, as a sacrifice, to God.

How glad I am to admit that they are better than I and how ashamed of myself I ought to be in God's presence! For what His Majesty has not consummated in me during the many years that have elapsed since I began to pray and He began to grant me favours, He consummates in them in three months -- sometimes even in three days -- though, while amply rewarding them, His Majesty gives them far fewer favours than He gives me. They have most certainly no cause to be dissatisfied with what they have done for Him.

For this reason I should like those of us who have been professed for many years, as well as others who have spent long years in the practice of prayer, to retrace that period in their memories. I have no desire, however, to distress those who in a short time have made more progress than ourselves by making them turn back and go at our own pace, or to make those who, thanks to the favours given them by God, are soaring like eagles move like hens with their feet tied. Let us rather fix our eyes on His Majesty, and, if we see that these souls are humble, give them the reins; the Lord, who is showing them so many favours, will not allow them to fling themselves down a precipice. They themselves put their trust in God and their trust makes the truth which they know through faith of avail to them. Shall not we, then, trust them too, instead of trying to measure them by our own standards, which are determined by the pettiness of our spirits? That we must never do: if we cannot produce fruits and resolutions equal to theirs, which cannot be properly understood except by experience, let us humble ourselves and not condemn them. For, by our apparent regard for their profit, we shall be impeding our own, as well as losing this opportunity, sent us by the Lord, of humbling ourselves and understanding our own faults; and we shall fail to realize how much more detached and how much nearer to God these souls must be than our own since His Majesty is drawing so near to them.

My only intention here -- and I do not wish to suggest that I have any other -- is to explain why I value prayer which has lasted for only a short time and yet is producing fruits so notable and so quickly apparent; for we cannot resolve to leave everything, in order to please God, without great potency of love. I prefer this to prayer which has continued for many years, but which, neither first nor last, produces any more resolutions to do things for God than a few of no weight or bulk, like grains of salt, which a bird might carry in its beak, and which we cannot consider as fruits of prayer or signs of great mortification. Sometimes we attribute importance to things we do for the Lord which, however numerous they may be, cannot fairly be so considered. I am like that myself -- and I forget His favours at every moment. I do not say that His Majesty will not value the services I have rendered Him, since He is so gracious, but I have no wish to set store by them myself, or even to notice it when I do them, since they are nothing. Forgive me, then, my Lord, and blame me not if I try to take comfort from anything I do, since I am of no real service to Thee: if I served Thee in great matters, I should set no store by these nothingnesses. Blessed are they who serve Thee by doing great deeds. If I could accomplish anything by merely envying them and desiring to imitate them I should not be backward in pleasing Thee. But I am of no worth, my Lord. Do Thou put worth into what I do, since Thou hast such love for me.

One day, after I had obtained a Brief from Rome empowering me to found this convent without providing any revenue for it,[6] and the whole business, which I think really cost me some trouble, had been brought to a conclusion, I was feeling glad that it had been accomplished in this way and thinking over the trials which it had cost me, and praising the Lord for having been pleased to make some use of me. Then I began to think of the things which I had gone through. And it is a fact that in every action of mine which I thought had been of some value I found any number of faults and imperfections. In some of them, too, I discovered signs of faintheartedness, and in many of them a lack of faith. I can see now that all the Lord told me would happen with regard to this house has been accomplished, but previously I had never been able to bring myself resolutely to believe that it would be so, and yet I could not doubt that it would either. I cannot explain this. But the position is that while, on the one hand, it seemed to me impossible, on the other I could not doubt it -- I mean, I could not believe that it would not turn out as the Lord had said. Eventually I found that He, on His side, had done all the good things, and I had done all the bad things, and so I stopped thinking about it; and I have no further desire to remember it lest I should recall to mind all my faults. Blessed be He Who, when such is His will, brings good out of them all! Amen.

As I say, then, it is dangerous to keep counting the years during which we have practised prayer, for, even though we may do so with humility, it is a habit which seems to leave us with a feeling that we have won some merit by serving God. I do not mean that our service is devoid of merit or that it will not be well rewarded; but any spiritual person who thinks that the mere number of years he has practised prayer has earned him these spiritual consolations will, I am certain, fail to reach the summit of spirituality. Is it not enough that God has thought him worthy to be taken by His hand and kept from the offenses which he used to commit before he practised prayer? Must he sue God, as we say, for his money's worth? This does not seem to me very deep humility; I should rather call it presumption. My own humility is little enough, yet I do not think I have ever dared to do such a thing. It may be, however, that I have never asked because I have never served Him; if I had, perhaps I should have been more anxious than anyone else for the Lord to recompense me.

I do not mean that, if a soul has been humble in its prayer, it does not make progress, or that God will not grant us progress: what I mean is that we should forget the number of years we have served Him, for the sum total of all we can do is worthless by comparison with a single drop of the blood which the Lord shed for us. And if, the more we serve Him, the more deeply we fall into His debt, what is it we are asking, since, when we pay a farthing of our debt, He gives us back a thousand ducats? For the love of God, let us leave all this to Him to judge, for judgment is His. Comparisons of this kind are always bad, even in earthly matters: what, then, will they be in questions of which only God has knowledge? And this His Majesty clearly showed when He gave the same payment to the last workers as to the first.[7]

It has taken me such a long time to write all this (the last three sheets have taken as many days, for, as I have said, I have had, and still have, little opportunity for writing) that I had forgotten what I had begun to describe -- namely, the following vision. While I was at prayer, I saw myself in a great field, all alone, and around me there was such a multitude of all kinds of people that I was completely surrounded by them. They all seemed to have weapons in their hands for the purpose of attacking me: some had lances; others, swords; others, daggers; and others, very long rapiers. Well, I could not get away in any direction without incurring mortal peril, and I was quite alone there, without anyone on my side. I was in great distress of spirit, and had no idea what I should do, when I raised my eyes to Heaven, and saw Christ, not in Heaven, but in the air high above me, holding out His hand to me and encouraging me in such a way that I no longer feared all the other people, who, try as they might, could do me no harm.

This vision will seem meaningless, but it has since brought me the greatest profit, for its meaning was explained to me, and soon afterwards I found myself attacked, in almost exactly that way, whereupon I realized that the vision was a picture of the world, the whole of which seems to take up arms in an offensive against the poor soul. Leaving out of account those who are not great servants of the Lord, and honours and possessions and pleasures and other things of that kind, it is clear that, when the soul is not on the look out, it will find itself ensnared, or at least all these will strive their utmost to ensnare it -- friends, relatives, and, what amazes me most, very good people. By all these I found myself oppressed: they thought they were doing right and I did not know how to stand up for myself or what to do.

Oh, God help me! If I were to describe the different kinds of trial which I had to bear at this time, on top of the trials I have already mentioned, what a warning it would be to people that they should hate everything worldly altogether! Of all the persecutions I have suffered, this, I think, has been the worst. I mean that I found myself sorely oppressed on every side and could get relief only by raising my eyes to Heaven and calling upon God. I kept clearly in mind what I had seen in this vision. It was of great help to me in teaching me not to put much trust in anyone, for there is none who never changes save God. In these sore trials the Lord always sent me some person coming from Him who would lend me a hand, exactly as He had shown me that He would, and had revealed it to me in this vision, so that I had no need to cling to anything but pleasing the Lord. This has served to sustain the little virtue that I had in desiring to serve Thee. Blessed be Thou for ever!

Once, when I was very restless and upset, unable to recollect myself, battling and striving, turning all the time in thought to things that were not perfect, and imagining I was not as detached as I used to be, I was afraid, seeing how wicked I was, that the favours which the Lord had granted me might be illusions. In short, my soul was in great darkness. While I was distressed in this way, the Lord began to speak to me and told me not to be troubled: the state in which I found myself would show me how miserable I should be if He withdrew from me; while we lived in this flesh we were never safe. I was shown how well our time is spent in warring and struggling for such a prize and it seemed to me that the Lord was sorry for those of us who live in the world. But, He added, I was not to think myself forgotten, for He would never leave me, though I myself must do all that lay in my power. This the Lord said to me compassionately and tenderly, as well as other things in which He was very gracious to me and which there is no need to repeat.

Often His Majesty says to me, as a sign of His great love: "Now thou art Mine and I am thine." There are some words which I am in the habit of repeating to myself -- and I believe I mean what I say. They are: "What do I care about myself, Lord, or about anything but Thee?" When I remember what I am, these words and signs of love cause me the very greatest confusion; for, as I believe I have said on other occasions and as I sometimes say now to my confessor, I think more courage is needed for receiving these favours than for suffering the sorest trials. When they come, I almost forget the good I have done, my reason ceases to function and I can do nothing but picture to myself my own wickedness: this, too, I sometimes think, is supernatural.

At times there come to me yearnings for Communion so vehement that I doubt if I could put them into words. One morning it happened to be raining so heavily that I thought I could not leave the house. But, once I had started, I was so much carried away by my desire that, even if the raindrops had been spears levelled at my breast, I think I should have gone on through them -- how much less did I trouble about drops of water! When I reached the church, I fell into a deep rapture. I thought I saw, not a door into the heavens, as I have seen on other occasions, but the heavens wide open. There was revealed to me the throne which, as I told Your Reverence, I have seen at other times, and above it another throne, on which (I did not see this, but learned it in a way I cannot explain) was the Godhead. The throne seemed to me to be held up by some beasts; I think I have heard something about these animals -- I wondered if they were the Evangelists.[8] But I could not see what the throne was like, or Who was on it -- only a great multitude of angels, whom I thought of incomparably greater beauty than those I have seen in Heaven. I wondered if they were seraphim or cherubim, for they were very different in their glory and they seemed to be all on fire. There is a great deal of difference between angels, as I have said, and the glory which I felt within me at that time cannot be expressed in writing, or even in speech, nor can it be imagined by anyone who has not experienced it. I felt that all the things that can be desired were there at one and the same time, yet I saw nothing. They told me -- I do not know who -- that all I could do was to understand that I was incapable of understanding anything, and to consider everything else as nothing at all by comparison with that. Afterwards my soul was dismayed to find that there was any created thing in which it could rest, still more that I could come to have affection for any, for everything else seemed to me a mere ant hill.

I assisted at Mass and communicated. I do not know how I did so. I thought I had been there only a very short time and I was astounded when the clock struck and I found that I had been in that state of rapture and bliss for two hours. Afterwards I was amazed at having experienced this fire, which seems to proceed from on high, and from the true love of God, for, however much I desire and strive and am consumed with the effort to attain it, it is only when His Majesty so pleases, as I have said on other occasions, that I am able to obtain so much as a single spark. It seems to consume the old man, with his faults, his lukewarmness and his misery; it is like the phoenix, from the ashes of which, after it has been burned (or so I have read), comes forth another. Even so is the soul transformed into another, with its fresh desires and its great fortitude. It seems not to be the same as before, but begins to walk in the way of the Lord with a new purity. When I besought His Majesty that this might be so with me and that I might begin to serve Him anew, He said to me: "The comparison thou hast made is a good one: see thou forget it not, that thou mayest ever strive to amend."

Once when I was struggling with this same doubt that I described just now, as to whether these visions were of God or no, the Lord appeared to me and exclaimed sternly: "Oh, children of men, how long will ye be hard of heart?" I was to examine myself thoroughly, He added, on one matter: Had I made a full surrender of myself to Him or no? If I had, and was wholly His, I must have confidence that He would not allow me to be lost. I felt greatly troubled at that exclamation of His. So, very tenderly and consolingly, He told me again not to be troubled, for He knew well that I would not knowingly fail to devote myself wholly to His service; and He promised that all I desired should be performed. And in fact what I was then beseeching of Him was granted me. He bade me, too, consider the love for Him which was increasing daily within me, and I should then see that this experience of mine was not of the devil. He told me not to suppose that God could allow the devil to have so much to do with His servants' souls as to be able to give them the clearness of mind and the quiet that I was experiencing. He gave me to understand that, when so many persons, and such persons, had told me that the visions came from God, I should be doing wrong not to believe them.

Once, when I was reciting the psalm Quicunque vult, I was shown so clearly how it was possible for there to be one God alone and Three Persons that it caused me both amazement and much comfort. It was of the greatest help to me in teaching me to know more of the greatness of God and of His marvels, and when I think of the Most Holy Trinity, or hear It spoken of, I seem to understand how there can be such a mystery and it is a great joy to me.

Once, on the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, Queen of the Angels, the Lord was pleased to grant me the following favour: in a rapture there was pictured to me her ascent into Heaven and the joy and solemnity with which she was received and the place where she now is. To explain how this happened would be impossible for me. Exceeding great was the glory which filled my spirit when it saw such glory. The fruits of the vision were wonderful and I was left with a great desire to serve Our Lady, because of her surpassing merits.

I was once in a college of the Company of Jesus[9] when the brethren of that house were communicating, and I saw a very rich canopy above their heads: this I saw twice. When other people were communicating I did not see it.


Continues the same subject and tells of the great favours which the Lord has granted her. From some of these may be obtained most excellent teaching, and, next to obedience, her principal motive in writing has been, as she has said, to convey this instruction and to describe such favours as are for the profit of souls. With this chapter the narrative of her life which she has written comes to an end. May it be to the glory of the Lord. Amen.

Once, when I was in prayer, I felt within myself such great joy that, being unworthy of such a blessing, I began to think how much more I deserved to be in the place which I had seen prepared for me in hell; for, as I have said, I never forget the vision which I once had of myself there. As I meditated in this way, my soul began to be more vehemently enkindled and there came to me a spiritual transport of a kind which I cannot describe. My spirit seemed to be plunged into that Majesty of which I have been conscious on other occasions, and to be filled with It. In this Majesty I was given to understand a truth which is the fulfilment of all truths, yet I cannot tell how, for I saw nothing. Someone said to me -- I could not see who, but I was quite clear that it was the Truth Itself: "This that I am doing for thee is no small thing, but one of the things for which thou art greatly indebted to Me; for all the harm which comes to the world is due to a failure to know the truths of Scripture in the clarity of their truth, of which not a tittle shall fail."[10] I thought that I had always believed this and that all the faithful believed it. Then He said to me: "Ah, daughter, how few are they who love Me in truth! If people loved Me, I should not hide my secrets from them. Knowest thou what it is to love Me in truth? It is to realize that everything which is not pleasing to Me is a lie. Thou dost not yet realize this, but thou shalt come to see it clearly in the profit it will bring to thy soul."

And, praised be the Lord, I have indeed come to see it: since that time I have looked upon all that I do not see being directed to the service of God as vanity and lies. I could not explain how it is that I realize this or say how much I pity those whom I see living in darkness with respect to this truth. From this, too, I have derived other advantages which I shall here describe and many others which I cannot. On the occasion referred to, the Lord said one special thing which has been of the greatest help to me. I do not know how this happened, for I saw nothing, but, in a way which I cannot explain, I acquired an extreme fortitude so that I became most firmly resolved to carry out with all my might the very smallest thing contained in the Divine Scripture. I believe that there is no obstacle that could present itself to me which I could not overcome.

From this Divine Truth,[11] which was presented to me with out my knowing what it was or how it came, there remained imprinted upon me one truth in particular. It gives me a fresh reverence for God, by granting me a knowledge of His Majesty and Power in a way which it is impossible to describe; but I can at least understand that it is a great thing. It gave me a very great desire to speak only of things which are very true and which go far beyond any that are treated of in the world, and thus living in the world began to cause me deep distress.[12] It left me filled with a great tenderness, consoled and humbled. I thought, without understanding how, that the Lord had now given me a great deal; I had not the least misgiving lest it should be an illusion. I saw nothing, but I understood what a great blessing it is to set no store by anything that will not bring us nearer to God. Thus I understood what it is for a soul to be walking in truth in the presence of Truth Itself. And what I understood comes to this: the Lord showed me that He is Truth Itself.

All that I have been saying I learned, sometimes by means of locutions, and sometimes without their instrumentality -- and yet I grasped these latter things more clearly than others which were told me in words. About this Truth I learned the profoundest truths and more of them than if I had been taught them by many learned men. I do not think learned men could ever have impressed upon me so strongly or have shown me so clearly the vanity of this world. This truth which I am referring to and which was taught me is truth in itself, and is without beginning or end, and upon this truth all other truths depend, just as all other loves depend upon this love and all other greatnesses upon this greatness. This is an obscure way of putting the clear truth which the Lord was pleased should be revealed to me. And what the might of this Majesty must be when in so short a time it brings the soul such great gain and leaves such things as this imprinted upon it! Oh, my Majesty and Greatness! What art Thou doing, my Lord Almighty? Consider to whom Thou art granting such sovereign mercies. Dost Thou not remember that this soul has been an abyss of lies and an ocean of vanities and all through my own fault? Thou hadst given me a nature which abhorred lying, yet in many things I allowed myself to deal in lies. How, my God, can it be thought fitting or tolerable for such great favours to be granted to one who has deserved so ill of Thee?

On one occasion, when I was reciting the Hours with the community, my soul suddenly became recollected and seemed to me to become bright all over like a mirror: no part of it -- back, sides, top or bottom -- but was completely bright, and in the centre of it was a picture of Christ Our Lord as I generally see Him. I seemed to see Him in every part of my soul as clearly as in a mirror, and this mirror -- I cannot explain how -- was wholly sculptured in the same Lord by a most loving communication which I shall never be able to describe. This, I know, was a vision which, whenever I recall it, and especially after Communion, is always of great profit to me. It was explained to me that, when a soul is in mortal sin, this mirror is covered with a thick mist and remains darkened so that the Lord cannot be pictured or seen in it, though He is always present with us and gives us our being; with heretics it is as if the mirror were broken, which is much worse than being dimmed. Seeing this is very different from describing it, for it cannot be properly explained. But it has helped me a great deal and has also caused me deep regrets at the many occasions when, through my faults, my soul has become darkened and so I have been unable to see the Lord.

This vision seems to me a very beneficial one for recollected persons, for it teaches them to think of the Lord as being in the very innermost part of their soul. This is a meditation which has a lasting effect, and, as I have said on other occasions, is much more fruitful than thinking of Him as outside us, as certain books do which treat of prayer, telling us where we are to seek God. This is particularly well put by the glorious Saint Augustine, who says that neither in market places[13] nor in pleasures nor wheresoever else he sought Him did he find Him as he did within himself.[14] It is quite clear that this is the best way: we need not go to Heaven, nor any farther than to our own selves, for to do that is to trouble the spirit and distract the soul, without producing any great fruit.

There is one thing which happens in a deep rapture and of which I want to give warning here: when the period has passed during which the soul is in union and its faculties are wholly absorbed -- and this period, as I have said, is short -- the soul will still be recollected, and be unable, even in outward things, to return to itself; two of the faculties -- memory and understanding -- will be quite bewildered, and almost in a state of frenzy. This, as I say, sometimes happens, especially at the beginning. It may, I imagine, be a result of the inability of our natural weakness to endure such spiritual vehemence, and of the weakening of the imagination. I know this happens to some people. I should think it a good idea for them to force themselves to give up prayer and to take it up again later, at some time when they have leisure, for if they try to pray while in that state they may come to great harm. And I have experience of this and of the wisdom of considering what our health can bear.

In all this we need experience and a director; for, when the soul has reached this stage, many things will occur which it will need to discuss with someone. Yet, if it seeks such a person unsuccessfully, the Lord will not fail it, for, even though I am what I am, He has not failed me. I believe there are few who have acquired experience of all these things, and without experience it is useless to attempt to bring a soul relief -- one will bring it only disquiet and distress. This the Lord will also take into account, for which reason it is better, as I have said on other occasions, to discuss the matter with one's confessor. All that I am saying now I have said already, but I do not remember it very well, and I am sure the relations of penitent and confessor, and the type of confessor to be chosen, are very important matters, especially to women. The Lord gives these favours far more to women than to men: I have heard the saintly Fray Peter of Alcantara say that, and I have also observed it myself. He would say that women made much more progress on this road than men, and gave excellent reasons for this, which there is no point in my repeating here, all in favour of women.

Once, when I was in prayer, I saw, for a very brief time and without any distinctness of form, but with perfect clarity, how all things are seen in God and how within Himself He contains them all. Describe this I cannot, but the vision remained firmly imprinted upon my soul and is one of those great favours which the Lord has granted me and which, when I remember the sins I have committed, cause me the greatest confusion and shame. I believe, if it had been the Lord's will for me to have seen this vision earlier, and if it had been seen by those who offend Him, they would have neither the heart nor the presumption to do so. I cannot say with certainty that I saw nothing, for, as I am able to make this comparison, something must have been visible to me; but the vision comes in so subtle and delicate a way that the understanding cannot grasp it. Or it may be that I cannot understand these visions, which do not seem to be imaginary, though there must be an imaginary element in some of them; but, as they take place during raptures, the faculties are unable, after the rapture is over, to form the picture which the Lord has revealed to them and in which it is His will that they should rejoice.

Let us say that the Godhead is like a very clear diamond, much larger than the whole world, or a mirror, like that which symbolized the soul in my account of an earlier vision, except that it is of a far sublimer kind, to which I cannot do justice. Let us suppose, furthermore, that all we do is seen in this diamond, which is of such a kind that it contains everything within itself, because there is nothing capable of falling outside such greatness. It was a terrifying experience for me, in so short a space of time, to see so many things at once in the clear depths of that diamond, and whenever I think of it, it is a most piteous reflection, that so many foul things, like my sins, should have been pictured in that clearness and purity. So, whenever I remember this, I do not know how to bear it and at that time I felt so ashamed that I did not seem to know where to hide myself. Oh, that someone could reveal this to those who commit the most foul and dishonourable sins and could make them realize that their sins are not hidden; that, committed as they are in His Majesty's own presence, God justly grieves for them; and that we are behaving in His sight with the greatest irreverence! I saw how truly one single mortal sin merits hell; it is impossible to understand how grave an offence it is to commit such a sin in the sight of such great Majesty and how alienated such things are from His nature. And thus His mercy becomes ever the more clearly seen, for, though He knows that we are doing all this, He none the less bears with us.

This has also made me wonder, if one such experience as this leaves the soul so terrified, what the Judgment Day will be like, when His Majesty will reveal Himself to us clearly and we shall see the offences we have committed. Oh, God help me, how blind I have been! I have often been amazed at what I have written, but Your Reverence must not be amazed except at my being still alive when I see these things and consider what I am. May He Who has borne with me for so long be blessed for ever.

Once when I was in prayer, and deep in recollection, sweetness and quiet, I thought I was surrounded by angels and very near to God. I began to entreat His Majesty for the Church. I was shown what a great benefit would be conferred upon it in the latter days by one of the Orders and by the fortitude with which its members would uphold the Faith.[15]

Once when I was praying before the Most Holy Sacrament there appeared to me a holy man whose Order had been to some extent in a state of decline. In his hands he was holding a large book; he opened this and told me to read a few words which were in large and very legible print. "In the times to come," they said, "this Order will flourish; it will have many martyrs."[16]

On another occasion when I was at Matins in choir, I saw in front of me the figures of six or seven members of this same Order, with swords in their hands. I take this to mean that they are to defend the Faith. For at another time, when I was in prayer, my spirit was carried away and I thought I was in a great field where many people were fighting and the members of this Order were doing battle with great fervour. They had lovely faces, quite lit up with zeal; many were vanquished and laid low by them; others were killed. This, I thought, was a battle against the heretics.

I have seen this glorious Saint several times and he has told me various things and thanked me for praying for his Order and promised to commend me to the Lord. I do not name these Orders. If the Lord wishes it to be known which they are, He will make it clear, and in that case the rest will not be offended. Each Order, and every individual member of an Order should strive that the Lord may use it and him to bless it so that it may serve Him in the Church's present great necessity. Blessed are the lives which are spent in doing this.

I was once asked by someone to beg God to tell him if he would be serving Him by accepting a bishopric.[17] And after Communion the Lord said to me: When he has quite clearly and truly realized that true dominion consists in possessing nothing, then he may take it." By this He meant that anyone who is to hold a position of authority should be very far from desiring or wishing for one, or at least from trying to obtain one.

These and many other favours the Lord has granted this sinner and still grants her continually. But there is no need, I think, for me to describe any more of them, for from what I have said can be gathered what progress my soul is making and how much spirituality the Lord has given me. Blessed be He for ever, Who has had so much care for me!

Once He told me, by way of consolation, not to worry -- and He said this very lovingly -- for in this life we could not always be in the same condition. Sometimes I should be fervent and at other times not; sometimes I should be restless and at other times, in spite of temptations, I should be tranquil. But I was to hope in Him and not to be afraid.

One day I was wondering if I was too much attached to the world because I was happy when I was with the people to whom I speak about my soul and had an affection for them, and because, when I see that anyone is a great servant of God, I always find comfort in his company. And the Lord told me that if a sick man had been at death's door, and attributed his recovery to a physician, it would be no virtue in him to fail to thank him and not to love him. What would have become of me, He continued, but for these people? The conversation of good people never did any harm, and provided my conversation was always carefully considered and virtuous I should not cease mixing with them, and I should find that they would do me good rather than harm. This comforted me a great deal, for I used sometimes to think myself over-attached to them and would want to have nothing to do with them at all. The Lord would always give me counsel about everything, even to the point of telling me how I must deal with people who were weak and with certain others. He never fails to look after me; sometimes I am distressed when I see of how little use I am in His service and how I am obliged to spend so much more time than I should like in a body as weak and miserable as mine is.

Once, when the time came for me to go to bed, I was in prayer, and I was suffering very great pain and beginning to experience my usual sickness. Seeing how tied I was to my body, yet how, on the other hand, my spirit craved time for itself, I became so depressed that I started to shed floods of tears and to be in great distress. This happened not only once but, as I say, often: it seemed to make me exasperated with myself, and whenever that happens I regard myself with abhorrence. But as a general rule I do not think I regard myself so, nor do I fail to do anything I see to be necessary for me. Please God I do not often do more than is essential, though sometimes I am bound to. On this occasion, as I say, when I was so distressed, the Lord appeared to me and comforted me a great deal and said I was to do these things for love of Him and to put up with everything, for my life was necessary now. I think I have never found myself distressed since I resolved to serve this Lord and Comforter of mine with all my might; for, though He would let me suffer a little, He would comfort me in such a way that it is nothing to me to desire trials. So there seems to me now to be no other reason for living than this, and it is for this that I pray to God most earnestly. I sometimes say to Him with my whole will: "To die, Lord, or to suffer! I ask nothing else of Thee for myself but this." It comforts me to hear a clock strike, for when I find that another hour of life has passed away, I seem to be getting a little nearer to the vision of God.

At other times I am in a state in which I do not feel I am alive and yet I do not seem to want to die[18]: as I have said is frequently the case, I experience a kind of lukewarmness and everything is dark as a result of the great trials I am suffering. When the Lord was pleased that these favours which His Majesty is granting me should become publicly known (which He told me some years ago would happen), I was greatly troubled, and, as Your Reverence knows, it has caused me no little suffering down to this very day, for everyone interprets them as he likes. It has been a comfort to me that they have become known through no fault of mine, for I have been very careful, and at great pains, never to talk about them except to my confessors and to people to whom I have known that my confessors have spoken about them: this I have done, not from humility, but because it has distressed me to speak of them even to my confessors. Now, however, though, out of a zeal for righteousness, people may speak very ill of me, and others are afraid to have anything to do with me or to hear my confessions, while still others say all kinds of things to my face, I care about it -- glory be to God! -- very little; for I believe the Lord has chosen this means of helping many souls, and I know quite well how much the Lord Himself would suffer for the sake of just one soul: I often call that to mind. I do not know if it is for that reason that His Majesty has put me in this little corner,[19] where I live in such strict enclosure, and where I am so much like a dead thing that I once thought nobody would ever remember me again. But this has not been so to the extent that I should like, as there are certain people to whom I am obliged to speak. Still, I am not in a place where I can be seen, so the Lord seems to have been pleased at last to bring me to a haven, which I hope in His Majesty will be a safe one.

As I am now out of the world, and my companions are few and saintly, I look down upon the world as from above and care very little what people say or what is known about me. I care more about the smallest degree of progress achieved by one single soul than for all the things that people may say about me; for, since I have been here, it has been the Lord's will that this should become the aim of all my desires. He has given me a life which is a kind of sleep: when I see things, I nearly always seem to be dreaming them. In myself I find no great propensity either to joy or to sorrow. If anything produces either of these conditions in me, it passes so quickly that I marvel, and the feeling it leaves is like the feeling left by a dream. And it is really true that, if later I should want to be glad about that occasion of joy or to feel sad about that cause for sorrow, I am no more capable of doing so than is a sensible person of either grieving or glorying over anything he may have dreamed. My soul has been awakened by the Lord from a condition in which I used to feel as I did because I was neither mortified nor dead to the things of the world; and His Majesty will not let me become blind again.

It is thus, dear Sir and Father,[20] that I live now. Your Reverence must beseech God either to take me to be with Him or to give me the means of serving Him. May it please His Majesty that what is written here may be of some profit to Your Reverence, for the little opportunity I have of writing has made it a laborious task for me. But the task will be a happy one if I have managed to say anything for which one single act of praise will be made to the Lord. This alone would make me feel rewarded, even were Your Reverence then to burn what I have written immediately.

I should prefer it not to be burned, however, before it has been seen by the three persons, known to Your Reverence, who are or have been my confessors;[21] for, if it is bad, it would be well that they should lose the good opinion they have of me, and, if it is good, they are virtuous and learned men and I know they will recognize whence it comes and praise Him Who said it through me. May His Majesty ever keep Your Reverence in His hand and make you so great a saint that your spirituality and light may enlighten this miserable creature, so lacking in humility and so presumptuous as to have dared to resolve to write upon subjects so sublime. May it please the Lord that I may not have erred in this, for my intention and desire have been to be accurate and obedient and I have hoped that through me some praise might be given to the Lord, a thing for which I have prayed for many years. And as no works which I have performed can accomplish this, I have ventured to put together this story of my unruly life, though I have wasted no more time or trouble on it than has been necessary for the writing of it, but have merely set down what has happened to me with all the simplicity and truth at my command.

May it please the Lord, since He is powerful and can do what He will, that I may succeed in doing His will in all things, and may He not allow this soul to be lost which so often, by so many methods and devices, His Majesty has rescued from hell and drawn to Himself. Amen.





I. H. S.

May the Holy Spirit be ever with Your Reverence. Amen. It would not be a bad idea if I were to exaggerate the importance of this task of mine to Your Reverence so as to impose upon you the obligation to commend me earnestly to Our Lord, as well I might after what I have suffered through finding that I have written about so many of my miserable deeds and have thus called attention to them; though I can truly say I have felt more keenly having to write of the favours which the Lord has bestowed upon me than of the offenses which I have committed against His Majesty. I have done what Your Reverence commanded me, and written at length, on the condition that Your Reverence will do as you promised me and tear up anything that seems to you wrong. I had not finished reading through what I had written when Your Reverence sent for it. Some things in it may be badly explained and others set down twice, for I have had so little time that I have been unable to re-read all that I have written. I beseech Your Reverence to amend it, and, if it is to be sent to Father-Master Avila, to have it copied, for otherwise someone might recognize the handwriting.

I am most anxious that the order shall be given for him to see it, as it was with this intention that I began to write it and, if he thinks I am on the right road, this will be a great comfort to me, for I can only do what lies in my power. Your Reverence must act in everything as you think best and realize your obligations to one who thus entrusts you with her soul.

I shall commend Your Reverence's soul to Our Lord all my life long. Be assiduous, therefore, in serving His Majesty, so as to help me, for Your Reverence will see from what I have written here how well we use our time if we do as Your Reverence has begun to do and give ourselves wholly to Him Who gives Himself to us without measure.

May He be blessed for ever, and I trust in His mercy that Your Reverence and I shall see each other in a place where we shall realize more clearly what great things He has done for us and praise Him for ever and-ever. Amen.

This book was ended in June of the year MDLXII.[23]

The End


[1]"Her cousin, Pedro Mex’a", according to Gracián.

[2]PP. B‡–ez and Garc’a de Toledo.

[3][An untranslatable play upon words: the two verbs are "do" (hace) and "undo" (deshace).]

[4]Do–a Luisa de la Cerda.

[5]St. Teresa may be thinking of Francisco de Cepeda's daughter, who professed on October 21, 1564, as Isabel de San Pablo, at the age of seventeen. The other young girls -- Mar’a Bautista, Mar’a de San Jer—nimo and Isabel de Santo Domingo -- took the habit in 1563-4.

[6]This Brief was dated July 17, 1565. [If it took as long as its predecessor (n. 306) to reach Avila, these lines cannot have been written before the very end of December 1565. But it may, of course, have come more quickly.]

[7]St. Matthew xx, 10.

[8]Apocalypse iv, 6-8.

[9]The College of St. Giles, Avila.

[10]Cf. St. Matthew v, 18.

[11][In this and the next paragraph I follow P. Silverio in the use of capitals or lower-case letters for the word "truth".]

[12][The numerous repetitions in this and the preceding sentences will be noted. Cf. Translator's Preface.]

[13][Sp., plazas, squares, public places: i.e., in intercourse with men.]

[14]The quotation is taken from Chap. XXXI of the apocryphal Soliloquies, often published in Latin under the name of St. Augustine, and, in Spanish, at Valladolid, in 1515.

[15]Ribera (Bk. IV, Chap. V) thinks that the Society of Jesus is meant; but Gracián, in his notes, has "the Order of St. Dominic".

[16]This, too, according to Graci‡n's annotation, refers to the Order of St. Dominic. Ribera agrees here. Yepes (Bk. III, Chap. XVII) says: "For certain honourable motives the holy Mother refrained from naming this Order; but I know that she is speaking of the new Reform which she founded." A number of Carmelite writers take this view, but P. Silverio inclines to agree with Gracián and Ribera. [So do I: the language of the following paragraphs suggests the Order of Preachers -- certainly not the Discalced Carmelites.]

[17]This, says Gracián, was the Inquisitor Soto, who later became Bishop of Salamanca.

[18][Or "in which I am not sorry I am alive, nor do I seem to want to die." But the context, I think, favours the rendering given in the text.]

[19]St. Joseph's, Avila.

[20]P. Garc’a de Toledo. [On the form "Sir", see n. 174.]

[21]Two of these would be PP. B‡–ez and Garc’a de Toledo. The identity of the third cannot be given for certain.

[22]This letter is found in the autograph, at the end of the last chapter. It was probably written to P. Garc’a de Toledo. [The heading is not, of course, in the original.]

[23]P. B‡–ez appends the following note: "This date is to be understood as referring to the first draft of the Life, before it was rewritten and divided into chapters. To this version Mother Teresa of Jesus added many things which happened after this date, such as the foundation of the convent of St. Joseph, Avila. . . ."

The End