Saint Teresa and the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa Symbolism


The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Gian Lorenzo Bernini is considered by many art historians to be his masterpiece. It was created for the Cornano Chapel in the Santa Maria della Victoria in Rome, Italy between the years 1647-52 and it is made of marble. This sculpture of a woman laying on a cloud and an upright angel showcases Bernini’s skill in creating beautiful and theatrical pieces. For example the heavenly life shown as golden rays coming down from the ceiling, the artful light on the faces of the saint and angel, and the stone realistically carved like the folds and creases of fabric on the two figures.
This artwork was designed to very spiritual and to involve the audience in Saint Teresa’s story of her extraordinary visit from an angel. She was a nun and a mystic who described her experience as an encounter with an angel that held a flaming golden spear. The angel then pierced the tip of the spear several times into Teresa, filling her with the love of God. Her experience was so profound that it caused her intense pain, pleasure, and caused her to moan. This can be seen as a sexual act, as many modern critics say, or a very spiritual experience between Saint Teresa and her angel.

Works cited
Bernini, Gain Lorenzo. The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. 1647-52. Marble. Santa Maria della Victoria, Rome.
“The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa.” Web Gallery of Art. Web Gallery of Art, n.d. Web. 2 April. 2014.
Zucker, Steven Dr. and Dr. Beth Harries, “Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa.” Smart History. Khan Academy, n.d. Web. 2 April. 2014.


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