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October 15

Saint of the day:

Saint Teresa of Avila

Patron Saint of Headache sufferers, Spanish Catholic Writers

Saint Teresa of Avila’s Story

Teresa lived in an age of exploration as well as political, social, and religious upheaval. It was the 16th century, a time of turmoil and reform. She was born before the Protestant Reformation and died almost 20 years after the closing of the Council of Trent.

The gift of God to Teresa in and through which she became holy and left her mark on the Church and the world is threefold: She was a woman; she was a contemplative; she was an active reformer.

As a woman, Teresa stood on her own two feet, even in the man’s world of her time. She was “her own woman,” entering the Carmelites despite strong opposition from her father. She is a person wrapped not so much in silence as in mystery. Beautiful, talented, outgoing, adaptable, affectionate, courageous, enthusiastic, she was totally human. Like Jesus, she was a mystery of paradoxes: wise, yet practical; intelligent, yet much in tune with her experience; a mystic, yet an energetic reformer; a holy woman, a womanly woman.

Teresa was a woman “for God,” a woman of prayer, discipline, and compassion. Her heart belonged to God. Her ongoing conversion was an arduous lifelong struggle, involving ongoing purification and suffering. She was misunderstood, misjudged, and opposed in her efforts at reform. Yet she struggled on, courageous and faithful; she struggled with her own mediocrity, her illness, her opposition. And in the midst of all this she clung to God in life and in prayer. Her writings on prayer and contemplation are drawn from her experience: powerful, practical, and graceful. She was a woman of prayer; a woman for God.

Teresa was a woman “for others.” Though a contemplative, she spent much of her time and energy seeking to reform herself and the Carmelites, to lead them back to the full observance of the primitive Rule. She founded over a half-dozen new monasteries. She traveled, wrote, fought—always to renew, to reform. In her self, in her prayer, in her life, in her efforts to reform, in all the people she touched, she was a woman for others, a woman who inspired and gave life.

Her writings, especially the Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle, have helped generations of believers.

In 1970, the Church gave her the title she had long held in the popular mind: Doctor of the Church. She and St. Catherine of Siena were the first women so honored.


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Basilica of Santa Teresa, Alba de Tormes, Spain

Address: Plaza de La Santa, 2 05001 – Avila

Tel: +34 920 21 10 30



Paella with chorizo, chicken, and shrimp


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon paprika

  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano

  • salt and black pepper to taste

  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts,

  •   cut into 2 inch pieces

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice

  • 1 pinch saffron threads

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1/2 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

  • 1 quart chicken stock

  • 2 lemons, zested

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 Spanish onion, chopped

  • 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

  • 1 pound chorizo sausage, casings removed and crumbled

  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
       (optional fresh mussels & clams)



  1. In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, oregano, and salt and pepper.

  2. Stir in chicken pieces to coat. Cover, and refrigerate.

  3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet or paella pan over medium heat.

  4. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, and rice.

  5. Cook, stirring, to coat rice with oil, about 3 minutes.

  6. Stir in saffron threads, bay leaf, parsley, chicken stock, and lemon zest.

  7. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer 20 minutes.

  8. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat.

  9. Stir in marinated chicken and onion; cook 5 minutes. Stir in bell pepper and sausage; cook 5 minutes.

  10. Stir in shrimp; cook, turning the shrimp, until both sides are pink.

  11. Spread rice mixture onto a serving tray.

  12. Top with meat and seafood mixture.

  13. Garnish with fresh steamed peas.

Traditional Spanish Yemas de Santa Teresa Recipe


In Spanish, yemas means "egg yolks." It also refers to yemas de Santa Teresa, a very rich and creamy, traditional Spanish dessert. They are simple and made of egg yolks, granulated sugar, and water with a powdered sugar coating.

This delicious delicacy has a rich history in Spain and is a specialty of many pastry shops, particularly in the city of Avila. Some Spaniards like to prepare this sweet for the feast day of St. Theresa, which is October 15th. However, it is a great recipe to prepare anytime you find yourself with leftover egg yolks.

Yemas de Santa Teresa


  • ​3 ounces/75 mL water

  • 1/2 cup/100 grams sugar (granulated)

  • 1/2 lemon peel

  • 6 egg yolks

  • 1 cup powdered sugar (confectioner's sugar)


  1. Begin by making the syrup. Measure the water and sugar in a medium saucepan.
    Dissolve the sugar by continually stirring while bringing the water to a boil.
    Add the lemon peel, if using. Continue to simmer until the mixture is a thick syrup,
    stirring often. Remove from heat and remove the peel.

  2. In a mixing bowl, use a whisk to lightly beat the egg yolks.

  3. Pour the beaten egg yolks into the syrup. Put the heat on the lowest setting, and stir the mixture slowly and continuously for 3 to 4 minutes with a whisk, until the yolks begin to solidify. The mixture will start to pull away from the sides and bottom of the pan as it cooks.

  4. Remove from heat and spoon onto a plate to cool.

  5. Once the mixture is cool, sprinkle powdered sugar through a sieve onto a countertop or stone. Place the yolk mixture on top and roll it to cover it in sugar.

  6. Pinch off a small bit of the yolk mixture (about the size of a golf ball or walnut). Use your hands to roll it into a ball, covering it in powdered sugar at the same time. Continue until all of it is rolled into balls, adding more powdered sugar if needed.

  7. Place yemas on a plate and chill in the refrigerator. The powdered sugar on the outside will form a small crust as the balls cool.

  8. Serve on a platter or place in paper candy cups.

The History of Yemas

The exact origin of yemas de Santa Teresa is not clear. Some believe they are Arabian. Others say that nuns made them behind the monastery walls of Avila and that they became popular during the life of Saint Theresa of Avila (Santa Teresa de Jesus), which explains the name.

The truth is probably closer to the latter story, since winemakers used egg whites to help purify wine, and they did not have any use for the yolks. It was common for them to give all their leftover yolks to nuns at the convents, who traditionally prepared pastries and cookies to sell. 

What is certain is that yemas began to be produced in the mid-1800s by pastry shops within the walled city of Avila, where they quickly became very popular. They were so popular, in fact, that the pastelerias (pastry shops) could not keep up with the demand.

Today, yemas are a popular sweet all over Spain.

Small pastry shops in Avila still carefully guard their secret family recipes, which have been passed down from generation to generation.

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