2007 Archive Edition - See the Archive Notice on the Project Homepage for more information.
John of the Cross
Juan de Yepes (John of the Cross) was born in 1542 to a Spanish weaver at Fortiberos in Old Castile. He joined the order of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel at the age of 21 and was permitted to follow the original Carmelite rule. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1567. Under the auspices of Teresa of Avila he was influenced to strengthen, reform, and sanctify the order. He helped to found the first reformed monastery of "barefooted" friars at Duruelo. On Advent Sunday, 1568, he took the religious name John-of-the-Cross. Later, at Mancera, he experienced his spiritual drought and interior desolation that inspired his mystical work Dark Night of the Soul. He felt persecuted by the slander of men and the temptation of the devil, but was rewarded in its wake by spiritual peace and tranquility. He was transferred in 1571 to the convent of the Incarnation of Avila, and became spiritual director and confessor to many. Again he was slandered and abused by those who thought his reforms a rebellion against the order. In 1577 he was taken to Toledo where he was imprisoned, abused, and confined. He escaped and lived peacefully for awhile until he became ill and was transferred to Ubeda, where he was again abused and neglected. Here he suffered in obscurity and died. The turbulence of John's life inspired the valuable writings which have made him a Doctor of the Church in mystical theology. They draw a psychological road map to spiritual purification from temptation and isolation to union with God through contemplative prayer.
Emily K. C. Strand
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