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Saint of the Day December 14: St. John of the Cross

St. John of the Cross: Life, Works and Teachings of the Carmelite Mystic and Reformer


St. John of the Cross


Priest and Doctor of the Church


1542, Fontiveros, Spain


December 14, 1591, Ubeda, Spain


14 December


1675, Rome, Pope Clement X


December 27, 1726, Rome, Pope Benedict XIII


O most lovable St. John of the Cross, lofty soul radiant with the light of God, protect our poor souls, preoccupied with earthly goods, and teach us the narrow and arduous path that leads to the Mount of the Lord. Make us understand the value of divine realities, and the fragile transience of all human things. Thou who art the father of the spiritual, the patron of the mystical, the master of contemplation and the guide to the most sublime forms of prayer, infuse our spirit with energy and impetus, so that, with the help of grace we may learn to love God on earth and then come to enjoy him eternally in the blessed home of the Kingdom. Amen.

Protector of

Mystics, poets

Roman Martyrology

Memory of St. John of the Cross, priest of the Order of Carmelites and Doctor of the Church, who, at the invitation of St. Teresa of Jesus, was the first among the friars to join the reform of the Order, which he sustained amid countless labors, works and bitter tribulations. As his writings attest, he ascended through the dark night of the soul to the mountain of God, seeking a life of interior hiddenness in Christ and allowing himself to be burned by the flame of God’s love. At Ubeda in Spain he finally rested in the Lord.

The Saint and Mission

St. John of the Cross, a Spanish mystic and central figure in the reform of the Carmelite Order, offers a profound exploration of Christian mission through his life and writings. His spiritual experience and theological guidance provide a unique perspective on the nature of the Christian call and the path to union with God.

The mission of St. John of the Cross manifested itself in several forms. First, through his collaboration with St. Teresa of Avila in the reform of the Carmelite Order, St. John demonstrated a deep commitment to the renewal of religious life. This reform process was not simply a matter of changing outward practices, but rather a return to a deeper life of prayer and asceticism, elements he considered essential to a true life of devotion.

Second, St. John’s mission was characterized by his deep understanding of Christian spirituality, as evidenced in his writings, including “The Dark Night of the Soul,” “The Ascent to Mount Carmel,” and “The Flame of Living Love.” In these works, he explored the soul’s path to God, emphasizing spiritual purification and union with the Beloved. His teachings, dense with symbolism and depth, still guide many on their spiritual path today.

Moreover, the very life of St. John of the Cross was an example of perseverance in suffering. He faced persecution and hardship, including being imprisoned by his own confreres because of his reformist ideas. These experiences of suffering were central to his teaching on the “dark night,” a period of purification and surrender into God’s hands, necessary to achieve mystical union.

The life and work of St. John of the Cross illustrate a Christian mission lived through the profound search for union with God and the transformative experience of the dark night. His emphasis on spiritual purification, intimacy with God and perseverance in the midst of trials offer valuable guidance for those seeking to deepen their spiritual lives and better understand their Christian calling.

The Saint and Mercy

St. John of the Cross, a 16th-century Carmelite mystic and reformer, offers a profound perspective on mercy in the context of Christian spirituality. Through his life and writings, a recurring theme of divine mercy emerges that pervades his understanding of mystical experience and the soul’s relationship with God.

One of the central aspects of mercy in the life of St. John of the Cross is his emphasis on God’s mercy as a transformative force in the soul. In his writings, such as “The Dark Night of the Soul” and “The Ascent to Mount Carmel,” he explores the concept of the “dark night,” a period of trial and purification that leads to deeper union with God. This process, if

St. John of the Cross, known for his profound spirituality and mysticism, had a significant impact on the understanding of mercy in Christianity. Through his writings and life, St. John explores the concept of divine mercy, showing how it is fundamental to the relationship between the soul and God.

Mercy, in the thought of St. John of the Cross, is intrinsically linked to purification and spiritual growth. In his famous text “The Dark Night of the Soul,” he describes a period of barrenness and spiritual difficulty that, although it may seem punitive, is actually an act of mercy on God’s part. This “dark night” is a process through which God purifies the soul, removing earthly attachments and leading it to a deeper union with Him.

This path of purification is seen by St. John not as a punishment, but as a divine mercy that liberates the soul and prepares it for mystical union with God. Through suffering and renunciation, the soul learns to depend totally on God, finding peace and joy in His presence. In this sense, mercy is intertwined with God’s love, which desires the best for the soul, even if this involves a path of temporary suffering.

Moreover, St. John of the Cross emphasizes mercy as a central quality in God’s love for humanity. In his mystical poems, particularly in the “Spiritual Canticle” and the “Living Flame of Love,” he explores the theme of divine love as a force that burns and transforms the soul, bringing it to a fuller expression of its nature and destiny in God.

The personal life of St. John of the Cross also reflects his understanding of mercy. Facing persecution and difficulties in his journey to reform the Carmelite Order, he showed great patience and resilience, seeing these trials as opportunities to deepen his dependence and love for God.

St. John of the Cross teaches us that divine mercy is a gift that purifies, transforms and brings the soul closer to God. His vision of mercy as an integral part of the spiritual journey offers a rich and profound perspective on the way God works in people’s lives, bringing them into deeper union with Him through love and purification.


A collaborator of St. Teresa of Avila in the founding of the Discalced Carmelites, a Doctor of the Church, John of the Cross turns out to be more and more a fascinating teacher: his words and his message taste of mystery, of the mystery of God.

He was born in Fontiveros in Castile, Spain, in 1542, to a very poor family. Orphaned very early by his father; a hard-working mother and…


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