St. John of the Cross - Encyclopedia


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ST JOHN OF THE CROSS (1542-1591), Spanish mystic, was born at Ontiveros (Old Castile) on the 24th of June 1542. He became a professed Carmelite in 1564, and was ordained priest at Salamanca in 1567. He met with much opposition in his efforts to introduce the reforms proposed by St Theresa, and was more than once imprisoned. His real name was Juan de Yepez y Alvarez; in religion he was known as Juan de San Matias till 1568, when he adopted the name of Juan de la Cruz.

Broken by persecution, he was sent to the monastery of Ubeda, where he died in 1591; his Obras espirituales were published posthumously in 1618. He was beatified in 1674 and canonized on the 27th of December 1726. The lofty symbolism of his prose is frequently obscure, but his lyrical verses are distinguished for their rapturous ecstasy and beauty of expression.

Some of his poems have been translated with great success by Arthur Symons in Images of Good and Evil; the most convenient edition of his works, which have been frequently reprinted, is that contained in vol. xvi. of the Biblioteca de autores espanoles.

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