Pope John Paul II paid homage to St. Teresa of Avila yesterday at a mass for 200,000 Spaniards and said the 16th-century mystic's life of poverty and meditation was an example for Christian women around the world.
"Her voice has resounded farther than the Catholic Church," said the pontiff in the homily. The mass was celebrated in the walled city on the Plains of Castile where the renowned Carmelite nun and church reformer was born and founded the first of the 17 convents she established in Spain.
Later in the day, a helicopter took the pope to Alba de Tormes, 45 miles northwest of Avila, where St. Teresa died in 1582. There beside the black casket containing her remains, he closed the year-long celebration of the 400th anniversary of her death.
The primate of Poland, Archbishop Jozef Glemp of Warsaw, and the pontiff's successor as Archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Franciszek Macharski, were sitting behind the pope as he addressed the vast throng at Avila.
Before the mass, John Paul visited the Convent of the Incarnation where St. Teresa lived.
Quipping and joking, he charmed about 3,000 cheering nuns who were given a once-in-a-lifetime dispensation from their cloistered lives of silent prayer and fasting to come to see him.