Avila University to Be Dedicated to Study of Mysticism

Outgrowth of Center That Started in 1986

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MADRID, Spain, DEC. 17, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The Order of Discalced Carmelites is planning to open the first university in history for the study of mysticism.

The university will be headquartered in Avila, a city connected with two of the greatest mystics: St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Jesus (the first woman to be named a doctor of the Church).

Plans are being made for the establishment of a center with a capacity for 160 students. It will include an auditorium, seminar rooms, a library, a 100-room residential area and space for administrative work. The institution will offer degrees and diplomas, including doctorates, in mysticism.

Avila already houses the International Teresian-St. John Center (CITES), in operation since 1986, embryo of the future university.

According to Carmelite Father Romulo Cuartas, CITES’ assistant director, «its initial intention was to prepare specialists in St. John of the Cross, in view of a proper celebration of the fourth centenary of his death in 1991.»

Once the centenary was over, «we were surprised to see that there continued to be many people interested in the courses on mysticism, so we decided to go ahead with them,» Father Cuartas said. An agreement was signed in 1996 with the Pontifical University of Salamanca, which validates the subjects taught at CITES.

Some 1,000 students have passed through the center’s classrooms. In 1986 there were 15 students; this year more than 60 applications were received for the course. The students come from 55 countries, including Colombia, India, South Korea, Italy, France and El Salvador.

The staff includes 30 professors from various countries; some are Carmelite religious, others are members of other congregations, as well as diocesan clergy and lay people who specialize in philology, literature, art and history. The specialized library has grown from a 1,900-book collection in 1999 to 11,800 volumes this year.

According to Father Cuartas, «the building will cost around 8 million euros ($8.1 million),» but he said he is a realist and is counting on support from the Spanish government because «there is a sector of society interested in mysticism.»

For more details, see (http://www.citesavila.org).

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