The Diamond Castle
Adapted from the Interior Castle by Saint Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
by Theresa Marie Lynn, M.T.S.
Illustration by Al Cassidy
“We know we have souls. But we seldom consider the precious things that
can be found in this soul, or who dwells within it, or its high value.”
— Saint Teresa of Avila —
Introduction by Theresa Lynn, M.T.S.
Today in America, castles at the Disney theme
parks, princess costumes, wizards, and magic fill
the imaginative hearts and minds of our children.
While they can create happy playtimes, a young mind
may believe that this type of play can be realized
concretely in some future reality. It is many a little girl
who “wants to be a princess when she grows up.” In the
end, the entertainment of Disney, which promises a place
“where dreams come true” and where “magic happens”
points to what St. Teresa of Avila called, “building castles
in the air.”
It is my hope that by bringing The Diamond Castle to
young children, it will help them to make the distinction
between the real castle that lies within themselves and
leads them to know and love God, and the castles that are
just for momentary pleasure. One castle lasts forever; the
other castles fall and there is only one real King, Christ
Jesus. Saint Teresa always refers to him as His Majesty.
Saint Teresa’s metaphor is the anti-thesis to the
charm of make-believe. Our children’s hearts are so open
to what is beautiful and good. As parents and catechists
we must help them to know what is true and what is
make-believe. When they are taught what is true and
lasting they can discern as they grow to what is authentic
beauty and authentic goodness.
The Diamond Castle first came to mind when
I was teaching my third and fourth grade religious
education students. The lessons included multisyllable
Catholic terms flowing from our beautiful
doctrines surrounding, Sacrament, Paschal Mystery
and the Eucharist. The children in my classes seemed
to not have any problem with these “big words.” In
addition, the curriculum offered the teaching of the four
types of prayer, went over the beatitudes, moral lessons,
and what is venial and mortal sin, the virtues, and the
gifts of the Holy Spirit and corporal works of Mercy.
Their verbal skills and amicable behavior in class
also impressed me. They would answer theological and
religious education questions that I would present to
them and their profound answers and correct responses
were not only edifying to me, but showed me how the
Holy Spirit was working in their young minds. Often,
to see what they knew, I would ask them questions
about things they had not even been taught yet. These
young students seemed to be really starting to grasp the
mysteries of the Church.
Each class started with a blank sheet of paper for the
students to take notes with colored markers and crayons.
Usually, I would start with a lesson that was outside of
that week’s textbook instructions. I would typically begin
with Church history. History can be illustrated with a
timeline. I would have them draw a line with an arrow
on both ends and a vertical line through the middle for
the time Christ entered into history. We plotted salvation
history before Christ (BC), and after Christ (AD), or Old
Testament and Old Covenant and New Testament and
New Covenant times.
The first question I would ask my students was,
“How long ago did Jesus live?” There were various
answers from 100 to a million years ago. This showed
me that their concept of history and time was still being
formulated. It showed me they needed the basics as well
as learning the terms which would help them in what
would be their future dialogue with others about who the
Church is, and what she believes. When did the people
throughout salvation history, like Moses and Abraham
live? After Christ, when was St. Teresa of Avila born?
What did it look like on the timeline?
Prayer was a big lesson and an important activity in
each week’s class. Springing from the implementation
of Vatican II’s “universal call to holiness,” prayer gained
its own section in the Catechism of the Catholic Church
and religious education materials have followed this
initiative by including lessons on prayer. At the third and
fourth grade level, students are learning new prayers like
the Memorarae and the types of prayer; petition, praise,
Beyond the types of prayer and memorizing the
standard prayers, since I saw that the student’s intellects
seemed open and capable of learning deeper theological
concepts, I thought of introducing them to what it meant
to have a “spiritual life.” I wanted to share with the
students what I had learned about holiness and the soul’s
union with God, while studying theology at the Institute
for Pastoral Theology with Ave Maria University. The
first place to start would be to teach them that they have
a soul and who dwells there.
However, I did not find any lesson on the soul as part
of the textbook curriculum. I was inspired to realize that
Saint Teresa of Avila’s use of castle imagery, to depict the
soul and how God is experienced there, could provide a
creative way for teaching a lesson on the soul.
St. Teresa of Avila recommends that you think of the
soul as a beautiful diamond castle where the His Majesty
the King of Glory resides. I had the students draw their
own diamond castle. Using the Index in the back of The
Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, translated by
Father Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez,
O.C.D., I picked out symbols from the list, that I thought
they could grasp. Young minds and even adults aren’t
ready in the first lesson for many of the symbols and
their meaning that St. Teresa uses throughout the Interior
Castle. But the basic symbols of vermin for sin and light
for Christ’s presence were easy for them to understand
and incorporate into their drawings and they were already
familiar. Their drawings were edifying. Some drew
hearts with castles in the center of the page to illustrate
Christ and His merciful Love. I did not suggest the use
of the heart to them, they thought of it on their own. The
“heart” is so much a part of Catholic spirituality.
Drawings of the diamond castle were so inspiring to
me that I decided to put the lesson down on paper. It is
my prayerful hope that The Diamond Castle will be the
first in a series of books that will teach children about
their soul and union with God. It starts your child on a
journey that Saint Bonaventure described as “a journey
of the mind to God.” I am thankful to Al Cassidy, the
illustrator, of the diamond castle image. It truly should
stir your child’s imagination and illustrate the beauty of
the soul that St. Teresa of Avila speaks of in her spiritual
I don’t know if anyone has ever attempted an artistic
rendering of the diamond castle metaphor, but I believe
Al Cassidy accomplished it well. As I expressed to him on
more than one occasion, when Saint Faustina Kowalska
was following our Lord’s request to have the image of
his Divine Mercy painted and she was concerned that the
painting did not show our Lord as beautiful as he really
is, our Lord told her, “It is good enough.”
ago, most of the nations in
the world were ruled by Kings
and Queens who lived in castles.
They reigned over their kingdoms from
their castle. Their castles were made
of stone and mortar.
During that time there lived
a nun named Sister Teresa of Jesus.
Sister Teresa of Jesus was born March 28, 1515 and
died on October 4, 1582.
She was a nun in the Order of Carmel. Her Carmelite
convent was located in the area known as Avila in the
country of Spain.
Sister Teresa of Jesus spent all of her days with other
Carmelite Sisters in the convent. They would say
beautiful prayers together. They prayed prayers you
know like the Our Father and the Hail Mary.
Every day she would offer herself to God through
Christ at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
When Sister Teresa was alone praying she thought a lot
about how to pray.
She said she used to think of Jesus Christ, our Lord and
our God, as present within her. She said, “It was in this
way that I prayed.”
Sister Teresa of Jesus is known today as Saint Teresa of
Avila. She was canonized a saint by the Roman Catholic
Church in 1622.
Saints are some of the best teachers.
Saint Teresa wrote about our bodies and their interior life.
Our interior life is the life inside us that is experienced in
what is called our soul. Normally, our attention is on our
bodies and daily activities. This is called our exterior life
or “active life.”
The convent could be a busy place. Even with the hustle
and bustle of Saint Teresa’s active life, she found the time
God guided Saint Teresa on how to
pray so within the interior life of her
soul, she could grow closer to Him.
Saint Teresa listened carefully to
She wrote down the lessons for
prayer and her own prayer
experiences to complete a book
called, the Interior Castle.
In the year 1577, on the eve of
Trinity Sunday, Saint Teresa said
that, “in a flash,” God showed her
Saint Teresa says that you will have great
joy when you are close to Jesus in the
interior of your soul. She writes that it is
a joy that makes you forget about yourself
and all the things that might distract you
from putting God first in your life.
She says that the joy will be so great that
you will want to praise God and share
with others the love you have found
through the King of Glory.
Your “knock” on the door
of the castle are your
His Majesty will hear you
and the door to your
castle will open.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be open to you.”
- Matthew 7:7-
1 - CALVARY
Represents uniting our souls when
we suffer to Christ’s suffering on
2 - ST. PETER’S BASILICA
Church of the Holy See, the Bishop
of Rome and Pope of the Roman
Catholic Church. Responsible for
teaching the children of God faith
3 - ANGELS
They help protect our souls from
the vermin outside the castle and
help us to pray to His Majesty and
make intercession to the King of
the castle with our petitions.
4 - ROSE GARLAND
Helps to realize the beauty that one
will find in their soul through
prayer. Also is reminiscent of the
Blessed Mother and the Rosary and
St. Teresa of Lisieux.
5 - DIVINE MERCY RAYS
Depicts the Divine Mercy devotion
that a soul can pray to help them be
close to Christ. White is for water
and red is for Christ’s blood.
6 - VERMIN
Alligators, snakes and dragon flies
represent sin and temptation
distractions from praying. They try
to keep us from entering the
diamond castle. It keeps us from
realizing God’s presence in our
7 - FLOWERS
Light up the outside of the body or
the outside of the castle because
nature glorifies God.
8 - HOMES
Illustrate that the souls of the
children of God are part of a
community of souls in prayer.
9 - GATE
Partially opened illustrates His
Majesty’s invitation for the soul to
unite themselves in prayer with him
to the Father with the Holy Spirit.
10 - THE VIRGIN MARY
Our Lady, Queen of Heaven. She
prays for us to His Majesty if we
ask her because she is so close to
him in Heaven. She fits next to the
King of Glory in Heaven.
11 - TORCHES
Like at church there is always a
candle lit when Christ is present in
the tabernacle. Depicts that this
diamond castle has the presence of
12 - SACRED HEART
Christ has loved us all with a
human heart. For this reason, the
Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by
our sins and for our salvation, “is
quite rightly considered the chief
sign and symbol of that... love with
which the divine Redeemer
continually loves the eternal Father
and all human beings” without
The Ten Commandments
The First Commandment
I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange
gods before me. Exodus 20:2
Because the Almighty has revealed Himself to us as our God and Lord,
we must not place anything above him or consider anything more
important or give any other thing or person priority over Him. To know
God and to serve and worship Him has absolute priority in our life.
The first commandment summons man to believe in God, to hope in him,
and to love him above all else. CCC, 2134
About the author of The Diamond Castle
Theresa Marie Lynn lives in Overland Park, Kansas and grew up in Independence, Missouri. She received a
Master’s degree in Pastoral Theology in 2009 from the former Institute for Pastoral Theology at Ave Maria
University. She is a member of Our Lady of Good Counsel parish, which is the Diocesan Shrine to the Divine
Mercy and Saint Faustina Kowalska, and is located in Kansas City, Missouri.
Theresa blogs at EucharistMatters.blogspot.com and published
the evangelization website, SinglesoftheEucharist.org in 2006.
She works as a consultant in Catholic media for CruxNow.com.
The Diamond Castle Project, which includes this book and is
first in a series, also includes a gaming app to provide a blended
learning opportunity around the diamond castle metaphor.