Translated from the original by Ana Giménez.
When Saint Teresa of Jesus wrote the fourth mansion she made a mistake and placed in the third chapter the supernatural recollection prayer, when it should have be in the first chapter. I take advantage of the opportunity to introduce briefly the story of the manuscript with a photo of its front cover and book case, where it is kept in the monastery of the Discalced Carmelites in Seville.
When she wrote the fourth mansion, Teresa is required to change cities, from Toledo to Ávila. This fact, added to her continuous activities, is the main reason why she changed the order of the chapter. The sisters in Toledo were making a copy at the same time as she was writing, and so they did the sister in Ávila when she arrived. She brought her copy when she moved city and the sisters in San José of Ávila continued this task. Thanks to this decision, we nowadays have a copy of the original manuscript, with exquisite fidelity to what was written by mother Teresa, before the intercession of theologian censors. This copy still is nowadays the best guarantee of fidelity to Saint Teresa´s original thought. It is kept in Madrid´s National Library.
Once she finished the drafting of the book, Teresa, her nuns and friends were afraid that it should fall into the hands of the Inquisition, as it had happened with her manuscript of The Life. The seizure of the book that she called “The book of God´s mercies” is the origin of her last great book, The Interior Castle. Her friends advised her to write a written memory of what had been written in the book Life. Especially her friend Jerónimo Gracián was the one who insisted on this idea, although she herself in her prayer had already discovered that this was what the very same Lord wanted. At that time she had intensely been living the seven mansions, from 1572, and still she had five years to go to Heaven. She wrote it in 1577 and she passed away in 1582.
She finished it that same year, a few days before Saint John of the Cross entered in prison. When she finished the book, she had a meeting with her censor friends in Segovia, where she was made correct many things, about 90 changes among cross out and corrections, with plenty of Jerónimo Gracián´s remarks. No doubt that the censors´ intentions were to protect her, but there were a bad influence in the future of the book, not only because they seriously distorted essential points in Teresa´s doctrine, but also because they felt they had theological authority over an uneducated woman.
Jerónimo Gracián made two copies, one for private usage with two ink colours and a third copy for the print, which was never published, as friar Luis de León anticipated Jerónimo Gracián. The first copy is kept in Córdoba (see photos below) and the second one in Lisbon. The one in Córdoba explains the mental universe in Gracián, his affection to the Saint and the liberties he takes to change including the title. From The Interior Castle the book is renamed “Book of the Mansions” and the subtitle involves Gracian´s thought, “Magdalo´s Castle”. Gracián, to whom I consider a great saint, envisaged Teresa as the new Mary Magdalene. He is quite right.
Not content with all that care, Jerónimo Gracián moved that corrected manuscript to Seville, where the prioress was a good disciple of Teresa, María de San José, to whom Teresa used to call “vixen”, due to her cleverness and intelligence. At the same time, the Jesuit Francisco de Ribera was also devoted to prepare an edition of her works to be published, in spite of the several warnings from general Acquaviva, more inclined to advise Ribera to keep on working with his lessons and books with commentaries on The Bible in Salamanca, instead of devoting his time in women´s affairs from different religious orders than his (several letters from the general to Ribera are kept in the archive of the Jesuit´s in Rome). When Ribera arrives in Seville with his brother Arias, he compares the manuscript with a copy, and he finds the unpleasant surprise of the cross out and theological corrections. He didn´t know that many of them were due to the intervention of his friend Gracián. Sick of so many correction he writes a complaint in his own handwriting in the first page of the manuscript, standing up for the author, ensuring that there is no heresy in her writings, and therefore maintaining that the original thought had to be maintained. As a result of Ribera and Arias´ work, Ribera writes an extremely useful new copy. Nowadays it is kept in the archives of the State University in Salamanca.
What´s more, seeing that Gracian´s copies guaranteed the preservations of Teresian´s thought, or maybe for greater security against the hounds of orthodoxy (expression often used by my master P. Tomás Álvarez), the original was given to a benefactor and friend of the monastery, Don Pedro Cerezo Pardo. The Jesuit Francisco de Ribera (also friend and confessor of Teresa) devotes to him (Don Pedro Cerezo Pardo) the first and the most beautiful biography of the Saint, published in Salamanca (1590), entitled: “The Life of mother Teresa of Jesus founder of clergy and discalced Carmelite nuns written by F. Don Francisco de Ribera from the Society of Jesus, and divided up in five books”. Don Pedro Cerezo had three daughters and his main joy would have been to see one of them dressed as a discalced Carmelite. Since it is customary for children not to do what their parents want, Don Pedro died of stone disease without seen his wish accomplished. A few years later one of his daughters entered the monastery and provided the monastery with a dowry of the original manuscript and 3,000 silver ducats. Don Pedro from Heaven may have applaud his daughter´s decision. From then on it is kept in the monastery of the discalced nuns in Seville.
The Definitors of the Carmelites (Saint John of the Cross was a Definitor) took the wise decision of making Fray Luis of León-the most outstanding intellectual of the period-responsible for the publications of the works of Saint Teresa. He didn´t meet Teresa in his life.
In the introduction he affirms to have read the original version, which is not true in the case of The Interior Castle. He used a faulty copy. I´ll give an example to understand it better, Teresa would frequently use medieval abbreviations, she invented one in particular, the one of the Holy Spirit. At that time writers had to be very careful when writing about the third person of the Trinity so as not to be mistaken as being heretic, called “alumbrados”. Teresa, because of her gender, and because she had no university education, she had to be especially careful. She was cautious. The few times she mentions Him in the book of Life she does it with all the words, always with lowercase letters, she never uses capital letters. In the Interior Castle she introduces the novelty of quoting Him with the abbreviation ssto. The same way she makes up others about Jesus Christ, from “señor” (sir) in the book of Life she ends up writing “sr” in The Interior Castle and latter to “/.”
The copy that fray Luis uses, understands it as “spirit”, and not as Holy Spirit. If pneumatology (the doctrine of the Holy Spirit) is rare in books fearing Inquisition, with these false readings it goes unnoticed. The retrieval of the quotations with regard to the Holy Spirit in the critical and palaeographic edition of the 90s from last century, although very few, has enriched pneumatology. The precautionary measures she had in her books never had them in her letters, always with the heading to the third person of the Trinity. With the decision of the Carmelite Definitor, Gracián and Ribera were left out of competition for publication of Teresa´s works. The first one, published a few years later some works which were not published by friar Luis. And through the second one we got an excellent copy and the best biography of Teresa (it can be found in modern editions, from the 19th and 20th century)
The responsible in charge of the Carmelites, not only ordered the publications of the works of friar Luis of León, they also took an important decision: they claimed the original manuscripts of the works so as friar Luis could work on them with guarantee. Furthermore, the King Philip II with whom Teresa had corresponded (there is a delicious letter kept in the Carmelites in Jaen), wanted the manuscripts of the Saint to enrich his library of The Escorial. He considered her a saint and he wanted to have her works together with another manuscript that at that time was believed to be by Saint Augustine. Well, the people in Andalusia kept a respectful silence. Neither Maria of saint José, or Gracián, neither Ribera, no one, said a single word. That´s why the manuscript still remains in Seville, while the first edition of The Way of Perfection, Foundations, and the book of Life, are in The Escorial. The second writing of The Way of Perfection is in Las Descalzas (The Discalced) in Valladolid. The letters which survived the devotion to relics are spread all over the world. On the contrary, a group of theologians, against friar Luis and Teresa herself, wanted to unearth her and burn the remains together with her works. She was accused of everything, of not being a woman, ”he is a male and very bearded” , they used to say; of placing God in the depths of the soul and not in Heaven, of wishing all the Christians to reach high picks in mystic, etc. Her fame was so spread that the people in Alba de Tormes buried her putting on top of the coffin many stones which sinked the front part, afraid of the people in Ávila to steal the corpse. Gracián digged her up nine months after her death and he mentioned how the corpse was intact, as if it were butter, he cut her arm, a finger and had it hung to the neck as a relic…In brief, a story which evokes old times, till things calmed down mainly because of the king influence. Thanks to him and to friar Luis, very soon her thought crossed borders and The Interior Castle is nowadays translated into more than two hundred languages. Its interpretation still open, as it should be, as we are in the presence of a spiritual literary masterpiece of all times.