3 vocabulary and inability to discuss doctrine in terms of classic theology.
Women were thus sanctioned for their "holy ignorance" and illiteracy; unsurprising as the study of Latin was deemed illicit for women.
Secondly, there was a significant gendered fear arising from poor masculine
opinions of women’s moral strength. Women were assumed to be easily deluded by
Satan or unable to find their own spiritual paths because of mental simplicity, ignorance, or inherent malice. It is telling, in this regard, that the Inquisition placed many women on trial
not just as
, “illuminated” practitioners of previously
-rejected religious doctrines
but also as
, demonically-influenced or demon-possessed persons who pretended to be holy; or as actual practitioners of dark magic.
In spite of this hostile environment, Teresa was a prolific author; writing between 15,000 and 25,000 manuscripts.
She admitted, in her writings, that three particular books influenced her early spiritual life:
The Letters of Saint Jerome
, Francisco de Osuna’s
Third Spiritual Alphabet
and St. Gregory’s
Morals on Job
Using Gregory’s models of prayer and practice; Osuna’s conceptualization of the “prayer of recollection”
and Job’s injunction to accept
whatever experiences God chooses to inflict upon oneself (Job 2:10)
; Teresa worked to visualize Christ while in deep internal reflection.
Electa Arenal, and Stacey Schlau. "Stratagems of the Strong, Stratagems of the Weak: Autobiographical Prose of the Seventeenth-Century Hispanic Convent," (
Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature
(University of Tulsa) IX, no. 1 (Spring 1990): 25-42), 25.
Kavanaugh, 16-17, 28-31. Teresa of Avila,
The Book of Her Life,
(Vol. I, in
The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila
, by Teresa of Avila, translated by Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodriguez, 5-365. Washington, DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1565, 1976), 3.7, 4.6-7.
Kavanaugh, 17. Avila,
, 5.8, 4.6-7.