I always associate the month of October with the Carmelites. Their two founders, St. Teresa de Avila and St. Theresa de Lisieux, celebrate feast days during the month. St. Teresa de Avila celebrates her feast day on October 15th. The Carmelite monastery in Santa Fe follows the Spanish tradition of St. Teresa de Avila.
First Female Doctor of the Church
St. Teresa was a reformer of the Carmelite Order. In 1568 with the assistance of St. John of the Cross, they restored the practice of the Ancient Order of the Carmelites. In 1622 Pope Gregory XV canonized St. Teresa. She has the title as the first female Doctor of the Church, a decree given by Pope Paul VI in 1970.
The Carmelites also had a strong presence in France during the 17th century. Therese Martin was born in Lisieux and entered the Carmelite monastery in 1873. In 1925 she was canonized a saint by Pope Pius XI and was also given the title as Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II in 1997. St. Therese de Lisieux celebrates her feast day of October 1st. Between the Spanish and French traditions the Carmelites consist of three components: The 2000 friars who live an active parish life; the 700 nuns that live a cloistered life, and the approximately 30,000 members of the Laypeople of the Secular Order. They have provinces all over the world including India, Indonesia and Singapore with missions from Bolivia to Zimbabwe. In New Mexico the Carmelites have monasteries in Santa Fe and Las Cruces.
A Spanish Tradition
In the old days the Spanish families of New Mexico practiced the tradition of naming their children for their favorite saints. My mother named me for St. Anne, the mother of Mary who gave birth to Jesus Christ. My middle name is for St Therese de Lisieux the saint of little miracles. My mother wasn’t concerned with the big stuff, little miracles suited her just fine. The naming of your child for the saint of the feast day that he or she was born was another Spanish tradition. I was born on October 6th (today is my birthday), which is the feast day of St. Bruno. Without a doubt, it’s a miracle that my mother didn’t name be Brunella!