Saint John of the Cross

Saint John of the Cross

"San Juan de la Cruz" Patron of Mystical Theology, Poets & Contemplative Life
Feast Day: December 14th

He was born in the 16th century in a town near Avila, Spain. His father died when he was very young and his family endured a nomadic life due to their poverty. He took a job at a hospital and studied at one of the Societies of Jesus, a new Order formed by Ignatius Loyola. Upon entering the Carmelite Order, he was soon promoted and began studying Theology and Philosophy. John became Ordained as a Priest in 1567 and wanted to serve God as a strict Contemplative. He soon met Teresa of Avila and they worked together for many years.   John was known as a Reformer and this led him to be ostracized by those in power. He became estranged and was apprehended and imprisoned by his superiors who felt his plan of Reformation was too strict. He was treated brutally and left to exist in a tiny jail cell. When he was allowed out, he was often tortured in public. After much hardship, John was able to escape from prison and continued his Reformation movement. While imprisoned John spent much of his time writing, and this may be when he penned the now famous poem “Noche obscura del alma,” or “Dark Night of the Soul.”  The poem is widely admired for its rich symbolism and eloquence. It portrays the story of the Soul and how it joins Christ. The poem has been described as one of the pre-eminent Spanish poems of all time. Dark Night of the Soul became a focal point for John and he wrote lengthy treatises about its meaning.   OT has been studied for centuries. John died before the end of the 16th century, and largely because his writngs, was declared  a Doctor of the Church. Few hold this distinctive title. He was Canonized by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726. His poems and treatises have been translated into numerous languages. ©2010

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