Saint Teresa of Avila (1515 – 1582) was born in the province of Avila, Spain, and was raised a devout Catholic. She was fascinated by the stories of the saints and at the age of seven ran away from home with her little brother to seek martyrdom among the moors. Their uncle found them outside the city walls as he was returning home and brought them back with him.
At the age of twenty, she joined the Carmelite order. After several years as a nun she initiated a process of reform of the order, seeking a return to full observance of its rules. This work brought her many trials and tribulations, most notably persecution from the part of the nuns who did not want to change their lax way of life. She founded several convents and wrote extensively. Besides her autobiography, two of her most known books are: The Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle.
In 1622, forty years after her death, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV, and in 1970, was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI.