Today was for many years the Feast of St Peter of Alcantara (1499-1562; nowadays 18 October), a Franciscan friar who was a huge support to St Teresa of Avila in her founding work. He was involved in the reform of the Franciscans before he met her. He was appointed to office in his Order but resigned because his fellow friars rejected his proposals for reform. For some time he lived as a hermit in Portugal, returning to Spain in 1553. Before he met Teresa, he himself was engaged in founding Franciscan friaries and encouraging stricter observance of the Rule among the friars, so he was the ideal person to help her. His encouragement was crucial in her resolve to re-establish among the Carmelites the ancient traditions of a disciplined prayer and community life, but he died in the same year that she founded her first convent, St Joseph's in Avila. In the beginning of her work she was troubled by doubts and uncertainties, and the fact that this Franciscan priest - renowned for his holiness and discipline of life - believed in her helped her to put them aside.
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