Teresa writes from the Incarnation where she has been prioress for almost two years. She wants a favour from the king, but we do not know the details of what it was. The letter presents to the king her intermediary, Juan de Padilla, an influential but somewhat over-zealous reformer.
To His Sacred, Catholic, Imperial Royal Majesty, the Lord King.
Jesus. The grace of the Holy Spirit be always with your majesty, amen. I truly believe that your majesty is aware of the everyday care I take to recommend you to our lord in my poor prayers. Since I am so miserable a person, this may be of small service, but by stirring the sisters of these discalced monasteries of our order to do so, I may be of some help to you; for I now that they serve our lord. And in this house where I now reside, the same is done, [She alludes to the Carmels she has been founding and also to the Incarnation from where she writes this letter] together with praying for our lady the queen and for the prince [The queen is Anne of Austria; the prince, Don Fernando, born 5 December 1571 and pronounced heir in May of 1573. He died at the age of seven, 18 October 1578] – may God give him long life. And the day in which his highness was pronounced heir, special prayers were offered. This we will do always. Thus, the more this order increases, the more your majesty will gain.
As a result, I dare to beg your majesty for your favour in certain matters about which the licentiate Juan de Padilla [Juan Calvo de Padilla, a zealous reformer], in whom I’m confiding, will speak to you. Would you give credence to him. Seeing his true zeal, I felt confident in entrusting this affair to him. If it were made public, great harm would be done to what we are aiming after, which is all for the glory and honour of our Lord. May His Divine Majesty preserve you for many years, as many as are needed by Christendom. It is a great relief that in its trials and persecutions, our Lord God has great relief that in its trials and persecutions, our Lord God has as great a defender and help for his church as is your majesty.
From this house of the Incarnation in Avila, 11 June 1573
Your majesty’s unworthy servant and subject,
Teresa of Jesus, Carmelite