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St Theresa of Avila's Feast Day October 15

Updated: Mar 1, 2021

by Sarah Lyon and Gordon Nary

St. Teresa of Avila along with her coworker, St. John of the Cross, were two of the greatest mystics in Christian history. Mysticism seeks to experience God "as he or she is" and has been a part of many religions, especially Eastern religions

In one of St. Teresa's most famous mystical states, she wrote about her union with Christ which she found impossible to explain in human terms. However, she did claim to experience the transverbatio or piercing of her heart, piercing being one of the most common symbols of mystics. At her autopsy, massive scar tissue was found on her heart.

Teresa was also a great religious reformer and founded the Discalced Carmelites, so named because they went barefoot or wore sandals instead of shoes. Teresa found seventeen convents in Spain, all of which included  harsh reforms, including mandatory vegetarianism, coarse clothing, and a life of extreme poverty

Because of the poverty of the convents that she founded, the nuns began preparing and selling candy during the holidays to raise money. These candies, Yemas de santa Teresa, named after their founder, were made exclusively by the nuns for nearly three hundred years, although they are now also made in pastry shops throughout Spain. They may be even tastier if you watch the biopic St. Teresa of Avila (2008) while enjoying these Spanish delicacies.

Yemas de Santa Teresa

(St. Teresa's Candied Egg Yolks)


1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1 cinnamon stick

5 egg yolks

1/4 tsp fresh lemon juice

grated. zest from 1 lemon

sugar for dusting candies

butter for waxed paper and hands


Combine sugar, water, and cinnamon stick in a saucepan over medium heat until it reaches a boil. Stir to dissolve sugar. Then reduce heat to low and simmer until syrup reaches the soft-ball state. Remove from heat and discard cinnamon stick.

Combine the egg yolks, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a bowl and whisk until the mixture turns a pale yellow. Add lemon-egg mixture slowly to the hot syrup, whisking the syrup as the mixture is added. Cook syrup mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens. Remove from heat, and keep whisking until mixture stiffens. Then place the pan over a bowl of ice, and beat the mixture with a wooden spoon until it is very stiff.

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper and butter surface of paper. Take a rubber spatula and form mixture into a long, thin roll, 12"x1". Chill until candy is stiff enough to cut.

Cut candy into 1" lengths. Butter your hands. Take each I" piece and roll it in your hand to form a small ball or miniature yolk. Roll balls in sugar. Cover with foil and allow to sit for at least 12 hours before serving.

Makes 1 dozen yemas

© 2017 Gordon Nary

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