Today, my last day in Avila, has been simply remarkable. Just thinking about it I feel the tears coming once again.
Our morning began with Mass in English and a lovely homily by Fr. Greg Homeming of Australia. Following breakfast the sisters gathered with Fr. Rafal briefly for final instructions. We all signed a letter addressed to the Order which we will share with you soon - through the coordinators.
L-R Sr. Jennifer (Australia), Sr. Lupita (Mexico), Sr. Bendina (Africa), Sr. Elena (Spain),
Sr. Christine (France)
After the meeting we all went to the CITeS computer room (11 of them!!) to print our boarding passes.
At every turn, CITeS has surprises! This is a patio off the dining room.
As we had time in the morning, several of us went to St. Thomas Dominican Monastery at the recommendation of Fr. Ramiro Casale (CA-AZ Province). It was very impressive and still functions as a parish church.
The opening on the Right is a small confessional where St. Teresa went.
Close up below. It's small!!
This is the priest's side of the confessional.
Fr. Rafal arranged for the nuns who had not yet departed to go to Alba de Tormes in the afternoon. This is a photo of the landscape. It took us about an hour and fifteen minutes to get there from Avila.
We were surprised and delighted that the community of 9 sisters in Alba welcomed us into the monastery, treated us to home-made cakes, icecream and drinks and spent the next few hours with us showing us the monastery and museum. They could not have been more warm and welcoming!!
The Prioress immediately took us to the room where St. Teresa died. I could not restrain my tears nor could I take a photo of the room. It was somehow too special. But I did take a photo of this painting that depicts the room where she died accurately.
This is the actual bell that was rung when St. Teresa died. The nuns rang it for us. Sr. Lucia's father was a watch-maker in Holland and she was fascinated with the interior working for the ancient bell.
Here we are with the community at Alba de Tormes in their refectory.
I was thrilled to learn that Sr. Iris (below, middle) sang in the Nada te Turbe virtual choir! She chose not to include her video - but only her voice. Knowing that I did not ask for a photo with her. So I was delighted when she came and asked me if we could have a photo together! All three of us here sang in the virtual choirs! :)
Below is a photo of a small part of the museum, which a few of the nuns took the time to show us. It was prepared especially for the 500th Centenary and is really, really beautifully done...unlike anything else I had seen. the design is contemporary and the simplicity of it helps the many artifacts they have on display stand out all the more.
Below is the resting place of St. Teresa. It is usually locked with several keys behind metal bars. However, the Prioress was moved to open it for our veneration. It was very moving. Here in Alba I experienced Teresa's presence more than elsewhere. Several other sisters said the same thing. There was a spirit of gentleness, beauty and love here - not unlike what I experienced in Segovia where St. John of the Cross lies.
We took photos of our group in front of the reliquary of Teresa. I believe it is evident from our countenance how moving this experience was for us. A great privilege!
After this the sisters took us around to the main chapel. St. Teresa's reliquary is above the main altar.
Close up below...
We spent about 15 minutes in silent prayer here in the chapel with the community of Alba de Tormes before bidding them adieu. I prayed for our communities here - asking Teresa's blessing on all of us - and on each of us!
Tonight at the end of dinner the friars thanked us for coming to share in their General Chapter. Fr. Saverio sends his blessing to all the sisters in the English-speaking region and counts on our prayers!
For me, this has been a most extraordinary journey with the family of Carmel. I hope that each of you who have followed this blog have been able to experience the grace of this time in our Order! If Teresa were here now I might imagine her saying Vamos! Let's go! With our eyes fixed on Christ - let us wake up the world!
With my love.