St. Teresa was born in Avila, Spain in the year 1515. Her parents were people of position and power, and Teresa was well-liked, but was easily enticed by the worldly things of the day (romance novels, fancy clothes, jewels). Because of this, her father sent her to be schooled at a convent run by Carmelites, and she was educated there until illness brought her home. After recovering from malaria, she decided to return to the convent to join the life of poverty as a nun. The problem, however, is that convents in Spain at that tiem were very lax and many of the sisters were only there to escape the demands of everyday life. Teresa was convinced that she needed to found an order that was more strict in contemplative prayer.
She ended up establishing 16 convents throughout Europe over the course of her life. She was bold in her beliefs, yet gentle as a dove. She experienced such deep prayer and visions that some doubted her. Her writings are still well-known today and she is a Doctor of the Church.