Levitation of Saint Teresa of Avila
One of the most famous cases of levitation associated with Saint Therese, a Carmelite nun from Avila (Spain) (Teresa of Ávila). She described briefly the cases in the 20th Chapter of his autobiography entitled «Life» written in 1565. There she reflects on the differences between the States of unity and ascension.
Ascension, she says, «comes about as a shock, unexpected and sharp, and before you can gather your thoughts or to recover, you feel like the cloud carries you to heaven or the mighty eagle on its wings.» But she spoke not only about the mental state.
She continued: «I Repeat: you feel and see that takes you nowhere. And though you feel that it’s all done with the greatest tenderness and care, the weakness of our nature makes you afraid in the beginning… it was so painful that I often resisted, straining all my strength, especially in the moments when the ascension attacked publicly.
I resisted as often when I was alone, as he feared deception. Sometimes I was able, by great efforts for a while to resist; but then I was humbled as a man, seized with a mighty giant; in some cases, resist not at all; my soul is departed from me, and almost always my head, too — I could not beat that, and then throughout the body, so I went up above the earth.»
Although words seem pretty convincing, some may assume that in the excitement Theresa who imagined off the ground. That is not imagination, confirmed those who were present at the levitation. One of these people, according to her friend and biographer of Bishop Diego de Yepes, was Bishop of Avila, don Alvaro de Mendoza.
Bishop Mendoza to receive communion Teresa and other nuns through a hole specially made in the wall of the choir. Teresa fell into a state of ecstasy before communion, and took to the air at some distance from the hole. By her own description, perhaps the same case looks like this:
«It (the rapture in the air) happened to me often; one time it happened when we all gathered in choir, I knelt before communion. I was upset because I thought that this is a very unusual action and was afraid that I would go gossip. So I ordered the nuns — and it happened when I was an abbess, never to talk about it.»
Despite her reluctance to stand out among the other sisters, levitation continued. One day while preaching on a public holiday, when the monastery for noble ladies, she felt again begins to ascend, and threw himself on the ground. The nuns surrounded her, trying to hold it but still the rapture was observed.
Here is how Saint Theresa modestly describes his feelings:
«It seemed to me when I tried to resist, like a mighty force lifts my feet off the ground… I confess that I was terrified, especially at the beginning,— what was I supposed to do when I saw that my body rises above the ground? Although the soul drags the body and this happens with great tenderness, if not to resist, not lost the sensation.
Anyway, I’m quite aware of myself, to see what are in the air… I Must say that when the rapture was over, I felt an extraordinary lightness in the body, as if I’m weightless — so much so that now I think my feet almost don’t touch the ground».
Test it was scary, but pretty harmless, «if not to resist». However, Teresa was desperately praying to get rid of these signs of mercy, «because for me it was the greatest grief that people can think of me too well, because our Lord has rewarded me in his mercy and not them.» Her prayers were answered, she said, «because since I’m not ascended».
Thirteen years after her death, in 1582, the witnesses of her levitati was still alive and could confirm what had happened. One of the witnesses was a sister of Anna. Here is her testimony:
«Another time, between an hour and two days I was in the choir, waiting for the bell ringing when we entered our Holy mother and knelt down by about half quarter of an hour. When I looked at her, she was at a distance of five feet from the ground so that her feet do not touch the floor. I was scared of what he saw, and she, too, was trembling.
I walked over to her and placed his hands under her feet and remained in that position, lamenting, about half an hour while it lasted. Then suddenly, she slipped down and fell to his feet, looked around and, noticing me, asked who I was and if I was here all the time. I said Yes, and then she made me swear that I will not tell you about what I saw, and I really didn’t say anything until this moment.»
But the most impressive evidence was not flying St. Theresa, and her obedience and humility. Here is what Bishop Yepes. Holy just communion. Struggling with the next ascension, she grabbed the bars of the gate, through which was given the sacrament, but still up in the air, crying to God: «Lord, grant me Your goodness, Your simple servant, do not consider the merits of such a sinner as I am, Holy woman.»