Column: From Heavenly Harmony
by Ken Myers
The medieval city of Ávila, seventy miles northwest of Madrid, is best known to Christians as the birthplace of St. Teresa de Jesus, the sixteenth-century Carmelite nun, mystic, and reformer. Captured by Moors in a.d. 714, the city was retaken by Christian forces in 1088, after which a network of massive stone walls and towers was constructed to protect the city and its new cathedral, construction of which began around 1091. The apse of the cathedral is one of the turrets in the city walls, possibly evoking echoes of Psalm 46 to generations of believers: "The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress."
Ávila may be the same city as ancient Abula, evangelized by the first-century missionary martyr bishop St. Secundus, who was traditionally numbered among the Seven Apostolic Men commissioned by Saints Peter and Paul to preach to the two Roman provinces of Hispania. Even if the identification of Ávila with Abula is incorrect, it seems that Ávila is a place where Christians have been active in the spiritual combat of prayer and worship for a long time.
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Ken Myers is the host and producer of the Mars Hill Audio Journal. Formerly an arts editor with National Public Radio, he also served as editor of Eternity, the Evangelical monthly magazine, and This World, the quarterly predecessor to First Things. He also serves as music director at All Saints Anglican Church in Ivy, Virginia. He is a contributing editor for Touchstone.
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