To the Reverend Father Gracian, de la Madre de Dios.
The subject of this short letter relates to the daughter of some great nobleman, who had taken the habit of the Carmelites in the convent at Valladolid. She had a sister, also, in the convent of St. Catherine of Sienna. But their father took them both away. In consequence of this, a report spread in the court at Madrid injurious to the Carmelites. To explain the real facts of the case, the Saint wrote the following letter. Date, 1578. Carta XXIV. Spanish ed. vol. i.
JESUS be with your Reverence.
My Father,–Though I have already written to you by way of Toledo, I now write again to let your Reverence know, that to-day I received a letter from Valladolid, which at first sight quite alarmed me. But afterwards I considered that the judgments of God are deep; that He loves this Order, and that He will assuredly either draw some good from this affair, or else avert some evil which we cannot foresee. I beseech your Reverence, then, for the love of God, not to trouble yourself about it. I feel great compassion for the poor young lady, who I think is much to be pitied; because it is ridiculous to assert that she was not happy amongst us, for cheerfulness and content were visible in her face. His Majesty does not wish we should be honoured by the great ones of this world: He will have us associate ourselves only with the very poor, just as the Apostles did; and so we must not be troubled by this event. As the father has taken his other daughter also from the convent of St. Catherine of Sienna, to live with him, we shall not lose anything by the removal.–I mean, as far as regards what the world will say; and with regard to God, it is better we should fix our eyes only upon Him.
Whatever shall happen, may God deliver us, from those grandees who can do everything, and who have such strange notions! The poor woman did not know what she was doing: and as to her returning again to the Order, I think it would not be fit she should be allowed. If there be any harm done, it may arise from the mischief which such things do to the convents, especially at the beginning. I should not have wondered at her leaving, had she been as unhappy as they say she was. But I consider it impossible for her to have concealed her discontent so long, if she felt any.
I quite compassionate the poor prioress,1 because she suffers by this removal, and I feel also for Mother Mary of St. Joseph. I hope your Reverence will write to her. I am really very sorry that you are now at so great a distance from me. I know not why I am so attached to you: may God fill you with His grace? Give my respects to Father Nicholas. All the sisters here send their regards to you, and pray God to watch over you.2
Your Reverence’s Servant and Daughter,
TERESA DE JESUS.
1 The prioress of Valladolid.
2 The Bishop of Osma, in his annotations on this letter, mentions several ladies of noble rank, who afterwards entered the Carmelite order.