A great influence on the development of the Carmelite Order and spirituality was Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada, better known as Teresa of Avila, who joined the Convent of the Incarnation in Avila, Spain in 1535 when she was 20 years old. When she was 39, influenced by her natural inclination for a simpler life, her study and reading of the Confessions of St. Augustine, felt a closer, more personal relationship to God. In 1562, she opened the Convent of St. Joseph in Avila, which was to have only 13 nuns and closely imitate the life of the hermits of Mount Carmel. She later founded 14 more of these reformed convents. For Teresa, Carmelite communities were to have no divisions, hierarchies, or special privilege. “All must be friends, all must be loved, all must be held dear, all must be helped,” she wrote.
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