The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila

Oct 24, 2019
University Club of Chicago
76 E Monroe St
Chicago, IL 60603
Back to Events

Carlos EireYale University

This program was made possible in part by a grant from the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

A luncheon talk with Professor Carlos Eire (Yale) on the recent book on the life and many afterlives of one of the most enduring mystical testaments ever written: The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila.

Saint Teresa of Avila’s Life is among the most remarkable accounts ever written of the human encounter with the divine. The Life is not really an autobiography at all, but rather a confession written for inquisitors by a nun whose raptures and mystical claims had aroused suspicion. Despite its troubled origins, the book has had a profound impact on Christian spirituality for five centuries, attracting admiration from readers as diverse as mystics, philosophers, artists, psychoanalysts, and neurologists. How did a manuscript once kept under lock and key by the Spanish Inquisition become one of the most inspiring religious books of all time?

In The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila: A Biography (Princeton University Press, 2019) National Book Award winner Carlos Eire tells the story of this incomparable spiritual masterpiece, examining its composition and reception in the sixteenth century, the various ways its mystical teachings have been interpreted and reinterpreted across time, and its enduring influence in our own secular age.

Prof. Eire also participated in a panel discussion of his book later that afternoon at the University of Chicago.

Carlos Eire is the T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of History & Religious Studies at Yale University. He holds a PhD from Yale University, specializing in the social, intellectual, religious, and cultural history of late medieval and early modern Europe, with a strong focus on both the Protestant and Catholic Reformations; the history of popular piety; and the history of the supernatural, and the history of death. He is the author many books, including War Against the Idols: The Reformation of Worship From Erasmus to CalvinFrom Madrid to Purgatory: The Art and Craft of Dying in Sixteenth Century Spain; and A Very Brief History of Eternity. Prof. Eire also wrote the National Book Award-winning memoir Waiting for Snow in Havana (2004) about his exile from his native Cuba.