Teresa pictured the soul as a beautiful mansion in which God resides in the centermost place. This interior castle contains seven dwelling places. We start our spiritual journey in the most exterior dwelling (the first) and, God willing, move toward the seventh. Each of the various rooms of the castle represent the degrees of purgation and continual strife that a person must pass through before entering this seventh dwelling—one’s own center—only when God allows it. In the innermost dwelling, the person becomes united with God in continuous, conscious love.
Teresa of Avila was declared a doctor of the church because of her reform efforts, the profundity of her writings about the spiritual life, and her dynamic faith and love. With her ability to combine common sense and deep mysticism, Teresa shows us what it means to be persons alive in our own culture who enter into the depths of our own life and heart and find God there.
Composed near the end of her life, this book represents the culmination of Teresa’s spiritual experience. Teresa attempted to explain the beauty of the inner life of the soul, the stages in a life of prayer, and the characteristic joys and trials of each stage. In this most famous of mystical works, St. Teresa encourages her readers to participate in the search for this ultimate reality - the source of her own love and joy.