Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, baptized as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada, (March 28, 1515 – October 4, 1582) was a prominent Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic saint, Carmelite nun, writer of the Counter Reformation, and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. She was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered to be a founder of the Discalced Carmelites along with John of the Cross. In 1622, forty years after her death, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV and was in 1970 named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI. Her books, which include her autobiography (The Life of Teresa of Jesus) and her seminal work El Castillo Interior (The Interior Castle) are an integral part of Spanish Renaissance literature as well as Christian mysticism and Christian meditation practices as she entails in her other important work, Camino de Perfección (The Way of Perfection). Readers interested in basic Christian mysticism need look no further than Saint Teresa of Avila. Theresa expresses in beautiful language her deep relationship with God, and her words of wisdom and ever-hopeful outlook have inspired Christians everywhere for centuries. The Spanish Carmelite nun's autobiography provides a perfect entrance point to the world of mental prayer. She begins her story with tales of her childhood in the early 1500s--the death of her mother, how she became a nun, and the hardships of her life including illness and a period of "lukewarmness" during which she ceased to pray. St. Teresa also relates the visiosn and instructions she recieved form God later in her life. This book also contains St. Teresa's writings on the four states of mental prayer. In the first stage, believers learn to pray. In the second, they experience the supernatural aspect of prayer. In the third, the soul is bathed inthe pleasure of God's presence, and in the fourth, senses are abandonded in a sort of out-of-body experience where the sould feels only divine union. This book also contains a series of "relations," letters she send to colleagues giving further thoughts of her beliefs. St. Teresa's warm and personal descriptions of union with God provide a wonderful and accessible starting point for engagement in her life and theology of mysticism.