Saturday, May 16, 2009

Florence 4

A great highlight of our pilgrimage, for me, was the visit to the shrine of St. Teresa Margaret Redi of the Sacred Heart at the Discalced Carmelite Monastery of St. Teresa in Florence. I belong to this same Order so I look upon St. Teresa Margaret as a spiritual sister.

St. Teresa Margaret's incorrupt body is on display in the Monastery chapel for veneration by the Faithful.

Rather than try and summarize her spirituality I offer a link for those who are interested. Go to for more information.

Main altar of the monastery chapel.

St. Teresa Margaret Redi of the Sacred Heart lived from 1747 until 1770. Although her community has moved from the location that St. Teresa Margaret lived in the 18th century, it is a thriving Discalced Carmelite community. As with most Carmelite Nuns in the world today, these women remain cloistered in their monastery (although some do go out for Doctor's appointments and other important errands). In maintaining their enclosure many monasteries still use the traditional "turn" which enables them to receive or impart things to people on the outside. It is a sort of a barrel, placed upright, with an opening that turns in complete circles so that the opening is on one side or the other. Here is the "turn" at the monastery where the Nuns gave us the key to the chapel.

A common question we get is: What does discalced mean? Literally, it means barefoot. However, when St. Teresa of Avila reformed the Order in the 16th century, the word was commonly used to distinguish the reform from the original branch of the Religious Order. So, when some people ask why I am wearing shoes or sandals, I politely tell them that to be discalced also refers to simplicity of heart and poverty of self-will.

Another common question: Why aren't you cloistered? When St. Teresa reformed the Friars, with the help of St. John of the Cross, she didn't want us cloistered so that we would be available to serve the Church and our Carmelite sisters.