Teresa of Ávila, a Spanish mystic who founded the Discalced Carmelites order, is considered one of the most important female Catholic saints in history. The Spanish noblewoman turned ascetic nun left a profound mark on this world thanks to her written contributions, from The Way of Perfection to The Interior Castle and The Life of Teresa of Jesus, which are today considered keystones of Spanish Renaissance literature in addition to their significance as works of Catholic spiritual literature.
One of her most famous passages describes her experience of religious ecstasy: “I saw in his [an angel’s] hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron’s point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying.”