“I BEGAN TO THINK OF THE SOUL
AS IF IT WERE A CASTLE
MADE OF A SINGLE DIAMOND…”
INTERIOR CASTLE is one of the most celebrated books on mystical theology in existence. It is the most sublime and mature of Teresa of Avila’s works, and expresses the full flowering of her deep experience in guiding souls toward spiritual perfection. In addition to its profound mystical content, it is also a treasury of unforgettable maxims on such ascetic subjects as self-knowledge, humility, detachment, and suffering. But above all, this account of a soul’s progress in virtue and grace is the record of a life — of the interior life of Teresa of Avila, whose courageous soul, luminous mind, and endearingly human temperament hold so deep an attraction for the modern mind.
In its central image and style, INTERIOR CASTLE, like so many works of genius, is extremely simple. Teresa envisioned the soul as “a castle made of a single diamond . . . in which there are many rooms, just as in Heaven there are many mansions.” She describes the various rooms of this castle — the degrees of purgation and continual strife — through which the soul in its quest for perfection must pass before reaching the innermost chamber, the place of complete transfiguration and communion with God.
Teresa was an incredibly gifted teacher whose devotion to the sublimest task — the guidance of others toward spiritual perfection — has resulted in the widespread fame of her writings. There is no life more real than the interior life, and few persons have had such an extraordinarily rich experience of that reality as has Teresa. In INTERIOR CASTLE, she exhorts and inspires her readers to participate in the search for this ultimate spiritual reality, the source of her own profound joy.
PROBABLY no other books by a Spanish author have received such wide popular acclaim as the Life and Interior Castle of St. Teresa of Avila. It is remarkable that a woman who lived in the sixteenth century, who spent most of her life in an enclosed convent, who never had any formal schooling and never aspired to any public fame, should have won such an extraordinary reputation, both among scholars and among the people.