I gave myself so totally,
and the exchange has thus been done that my Beloved is for me, and I’m for only my Loved One.
When that sweet Hunter from above had wounded and o’erpowered me,
and left me in the arms of love, my soul abiding languidly;
new life came in recovery, and the exchange has thus been done that my Beloved is for me, and I’m for only my Loved One.
The arrow used in wounding me with his love he had deigned to fill,
and so my soul was made to be at one with its Creator’s will.
No other love could e’er fulfill,
since to my God surrender is done, and my Beloved is for me, and I’m for only my Loved One.
~ A poem by Saint Teresa of Avila, ‘Flame of Love’
Last year I had the blessing to travel to Rome and visited the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria. This beautiful church is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and is known for the masterpiece of Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the Cornaro Chapel, the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa of Avila. Here above is the photo I took up close of this very impressive sculpture that is so worth of viewing and contemplating. Bernini became inspired by the most famous vision of Saint Teresa, the wounding of her heart.
In Saint Teresa’s own words:
“Sometimes love, like an arrow, is thrust into the deepest part of the heart and the soul doesn’t know what has happened or what it wants, except all it wants is God. The soul feels as if the arrow has been dipped in a poisonous herb that makes it despise itself for love of him. This pierced soul would gladly lose itself for him. You can’t explain this. It’s impossible to exaggerate the way of God wounds the soul, or the agony this causes, for the soul forgets itself. Yet this pain is so exquisite…so delightful…that no other pleasure in life gives greater happiness.
“Oh, how many times in this state do I remember the words of David: ‘As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God.’ I experience it literally when he wounds me.
“Sometimes in this state I saw a vision: an angel in bodily form, standing very close to me on my left side. The angel was not large, but small and very beautiful. His face was so aflame that I thought he must be a cherub, one of the highest order of angels, who seem to be made of fire.
“I saw that his hands held a great golden dart, and at the end of the iron tip fire plumed. The angel plunged the flaming dart through my heart again and again until it penetrated my innermost core. When he withdrew it, it felt like he was carrying the deepest part of me away with him. He left me on fire, consumed with the immense love of God. The pain was so fierce that it made me moan, and its sweetness so utterly divine it abolished any desire to take it away; nor is the soul content with anything but God.”