Born to the Spanish nobility, the daughter of Don Alonso Sanchez de Cepeda and Doña Beatriz, Teresa grew up reading the lives of the saints, and playing at “hermit” in the garden. Crippled by disease in her youth, which led to her being well educated at home, she was cured after prayer to St Joseph. Her mother died when Teresa was 12, and she prayed to Our Lady to be her replacement. Her father opposed her entry to religious life, so she left home without telling anyone, and entered a Carmelite house at 17. Seeing her conviction to her call, her father and family consented.
Soon after taking her vows, Teresa became gravely ill, and her condition was aggravated by the inadequate medical help she received; she never fully recovered her health. She began receiving visions, and was examined by Dominicans and Jesuits, including Saint Francis Borgia, who pronounced the visions to be holy and true.
She considered her original house too lax in its rule, so she founded a reformed convent of Saint John of Avila. Teresa founded several houses, often against fierce opposition from local authorities. Mystical writer. Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on 27 September 1970 by Pope Paul VI.
There are more than one type of stigmata. Some affected people display no outward signs of the stigmata at all. These are referred to as the invisible stigmata. Other stigmatics' wounds refuse to clot or heal. They remain fresh and uninfected.
In very rare cases the blood is said to have a perfumed odour, known as the Odour of Sanctity. The Odour of Sanctity can also be present separate from stigmata. Saint Teresa of Avila was reported to have emitted heavenly scents after she died.
Those who have shown the wounds of Christ are often ecstatics. Upon receiving the stigmata they receive a mystical vision of Christ. While the have been extremely rare cases on non-Catholic stigmatics most are devout Catholics.
The first mentioned stigmatic is St Francis of Assisi in whom the stigmata were of a character never seen subsequently. Since that time over five hundered stigmatics have been accepted by the Roman Catholic Church. The first record of a female stigmatic is the Blessed Christina von Stommeln circa 1310.
St Teresa of Avila’s scent emanated throughout the whole monastery the moment she died. Saint Thérèse de Lisieux (known as “the Little Flower”) was said to have produced a strong scent of roses at her death, which was detectable for days afterward. Likewise, Padre Pio’s stigmata is said to have emanated the smell of roses.