Saint Teresa of Avila - Pierced by an angel
Type of Spiritual Experience
Now for the most famous quote of all.................
Bernini, The Ecstasy of St. Theresa
A description of the experience
The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself
Beside me on the left hand, appeared an angel in bodily form, such as I am not in the habit of seeing except very rarely.
Though I often have visions of angels, I do not see them. They come to me only after the manner of the first type of vision that I described [an inner vision]. But it was our Lord's will that I should see this angel in the following way.
He was not tall but short, and very beautiful; and his face was so aflame that he appeared to be one of the highest rank of angels, who seem to be all on fire. They must be of the kind called cherubim, but they do not tell me their names. I know very well that there is a great difference between some angels and others and between these and others still, but I could not possibly explain it.
In his hands I saw a great golden spear and at the iron tip there appeared to be a point of fire. This he plunged into my heart several times so that it penetrated to my entrails. When he pulled it out, I felt that he took them with it and left me utterly consumed by the great love of God.
The pain was so severe that it made me utter several moans. The sweetness caused by this intense pain is so extreme that one cannot possibly wish it to cease, nor is one's soul then content with anything but God. This is not a physical, but a spiritual pain, though the body has some share in it – even a considerable share