St Teresa of Ávila – First woman to be declared a Doctor of the Universal Church

On March 28, 2015, Pope Francis stated that, “500 years after [her] birth, the witness of St Teresa of Avila remains strong”, a powerful leader for the twenty-first century!” Over the course of her lifetime “Teresa was called upon to defend the legitimacy of her mystical experience, her reform agenda, and indeed, her very self. As she realized how rooted such criticisms were in misogynist assumptions, Teresa began to take on the defense of women in general, arguing for a greater and more explicit role for women within the Christian tradition” (Ahlgren, 1996:1, cited in Cameron, 2012a:113). Teresa was a “powerful spokesperson” (p.165) for the Church in sixteenth century Spain. And now leaders in the contemporary Church, who challenge the status quo and step outside their comfort zone, have an opportunity to become powerful leaders within the global Church of the twenty-first century!