Retablo Series. Saint Therese of Avila


therese-of-avila

The image can be found as a 17th century hardwood relief, located on the first level, middle frame, Gospel altar of the Silang Church. The polychrome artwork featured the Carmelite nun in brown habit beatified in 1614, and canonized in 1622 by Gregory XV. Her feast is on 15 October.

Her feast is on 15 October.

Portrayed as being shot by an arrow by child Jesus, flanked by Mary and Joseph, other representations may show her heart already pierced by an arrow or holding book, or a pen or being visited by a dove. Stories told that God frequently visits her through visions and locutions as represented in the flashes of light from the heavens and the descent of four cherubs with one holding a quill. Always ecstatic with the experience but sometimes afraid and confused on how to reconcile the graces of visions, St. Therese greatly shook the town of Avila with her news of visions.

The relief showed two angels on either side lifting her up to her feet, protecting and guiding her. “Deeply interested with her visions, the Jesuits tried to discern God’s message through St. Therese’s visions.” (Zimmerman 1912) She died on 4 Oct., 1582.

After some years her body was exhumed and transferred to Avila, but later on transferred to Alba, where it is still preserved the uncorrupted body of the nun. Her heart is exposed there for the veneration of the faithful devotees. Interestingly, this showed the marks of Transverberation. She is a saint with a deep insight and faith, calls on the congregation to similarly surrender oneself to God’s presence and relay his message for everyone to know.

This is part of the series deciphering the iconography of Silang Parish Retablo in Cavite.

Sources:

https://www.academia.edu/25769270/Medina_I-1_GATHERING_THE_UNCOLLECTED_ACCOUNTING_AND_CURATING_SILANGS_HERITAGE

Zimmerman, Benedict. “St. Teresa of Avila.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912.