Saint Teresa of Avila was born on this date in 1515. A mystic, she experienced religious visions and what she called “divine joy” while painfully ill; she is the patron saint of those who suffer headaches and physical pain and those who are ridiculed for their piety. St. Teresa is depicted in many works of art, music, and literature, including Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s masterwork “Ecstasy of St. Teresa” in the Santa Maria della Vittoria church, carved 1647–52, pictured above.
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“Dearest, I feel certain I am going mad again.” Virginia Woolf wrote her last letter to her husband, wrote her last anything, and drowned herself in the River Ouse 75 years ago today. She was 59 and this was her third suicide attempt and letter. She was most likely bipolar and it had been an exhausting existence. “Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness,” she wrote Leonard Woolf. It is a stunning and simply heart-breaking statement that she hand-wrote (after the fold):
I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that—everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer.
I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been.
Louise Brealey reads:
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President Dwight D. Eisenhower died on this date in 1969.
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The late Ken Howard was born on this date in 1944. (He died on March 23.)
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Zbigniew Brzezinski is 88. Sir Michael Parkinson is 81 today. Mario Vargas Llosa is 80 today. Russell Banks is 76 today. Rick Barry is 72 today. Dianne Wiest is 68 today. Reba McEntire is 61 today. Chris Barrie is 56 today. Vince Vaughn is 46. Lady Gaga is 30 today.
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