John of the Cross

December 14

Born Juan de Yepes in 1542, this Carmelite monk took the name John of the Cross in 1568 when he opened the first men's house of Discalced Carmelites at Duruelo in Spain. Many Carmelites felt threatened by his idea that the order should put more emphasis on a life of prayer, and had him kidnapped in 1577. He was locked in a tower and subjected to beatings and starvation, with only a single tiny window for light. He escaped after nine months, following a dog to civilization, and renewed the writing that he had begun while in captivity.

John's most noted works are The Dark Night of the Soul, The Ascent of Mount Carmel, The Living Flame of Love, and The Spiritual Canticle. His enduring faith has given direction to countless souls; Teresa of Avila was his most famous student. He proposed a simple way of life: "Where there is no love, put love -- and you will find love."

If St. John had taken the Spiritual Types Test, he probably would have been a Lover. John's feast day is December 14. 

Read some of John's writings in Loving God through the Darkness: Selected Writings of John of the Cross.


Image St. John of the Cross, oil on canvas, Francisco de Zurbarán (1598–1664).

Today's Reflection

John of the Cross