Sunday, December 14, 2008

St. John of the Cross (1542-1591)

Born into poverty at Toledo Spain in 1542, his father was disinherited from a wealthy family for marrying below his station. He died in his prime and his mother was barley able to keep the family together.

John was sent to the poor school at Medina del Campo, he proved tobe be a bright and attentive student, but when apprnticed to an artisian, seemed incapable of retaining anything. At which point the head of the hospital in Madina took him under wing. For seven years he divided his time to tending to the poorest of the poor and frequenting a school established by the Jesuits. He entered the Carmilite order and became a friar.

He was persuaded by Teresa of Avilia to join a reformed movment within the Carmilites known as the Discalceds. He was siezed and thrown into prison by a repressive wing of the Carmilites and finally escaped.

The Discalceds won their independence, yet toward the end of his life he suffered severe persecutions at the hands of his own order. He was stripped of rank and bannished to a remote part of Spain where he died.

John was a mystic and an advocate for the poor. He penned a number books now considered classics of Christian mysticisim. The most famous being The Dark Night of the Soul - a poem with a commentary in prose.

The night which seems unwelcome becomes sweeter than the dawn and unites the Divine lover and the Beloved until each is transformed into the other.

On that glad night,

in secret, for no one saw me,

nor did I look at anything,

with no other light or guide

than the one that burned in my heart.

for further reading

short bio, bibiliography, quotes

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