Saint John of the Cross

Also known as

  • Doctor of Mystical Theology
  • John della Croce
  • John de la Croix
  • John de la Cruz
  • John vom Kreuz
  • Juan de Santa María de Yepes
  • Johannes av Korset

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Born in poverty. Cared for the poor in the hospital in Medina del Campo, Spain. Carmelite lay brother in 1563 at age 21, though he lived more strictly than the Rule required. Studied at Salamanca, Spain. Carmelite priest, ordained in 1567 at age 25. Persuaded by Saint Teresa of Avila to begin the Discalced or barefoot reform within the Carmelite Order, he took the name John of the Cross. Master of novices. Spiritual director and confessor at Saint Teresa‘s convent. His reforms did not set well with some of his brothers, and he was ordered to return to Medina del Campo. He refused, and was imprisoned at Toledo, Spain, escaping after nine months. Vicar-general of Andalusia, Spain. His reforms revitalized the Order. Great contemplative and spiritual writer. Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI on 24 August 1926.

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Never was fount so clear,
undimmed and bright;
From it alone, I know proceeds all light
although ’tis night.
- Saint John of the Cross

At the end of your life, you will be judged by your love. - Saint John of the Cross

Just as we can never separate asceticism from mysticism, so in Saint John of the Cross we find darkness and light, suffering and joy, sacrifice and love united together so closely that they seem at times to be identified. - Thomas Merton

If you do not learn to deny yourself, you can make no progress in perfection. - Saint John of the Cross

In detachment, the spirit finds quiet and repose for coveting nothing. Nothing wearies it by elation, and nothing oppresses it by dejection, because it stands in the center of its own humility. - Saint John of the Cross

The Lord measures our perfection neither by the multitude nor the magnitude of our deeds, but by the manner in which we perform them. - Saint John of the Cross

I wish I could persuade spiritual persons that the way of perfection does not consist in many devices, nor in much cogitation, but in denying themselves completely and yielding themselves to suffer everything for the love of Christ. And if there is failure in this exercise, all other methods of walking in the spiritual way are merely a beating about the bush, and profitless trifling, although a person should have very high contemplation and communication with God. - Saint John of the Cross

Live in the world as if only God and your soul were in it; then your heart will never be made captive by any earthly thing. - Saint John of the Cross

O you souls who wish to go on with so much safety and consolation, if you knew how pleasing to God is suffering, and how much it helps in acquiring other good things, you would never seek consolation in anything; but you would rather look upon it as a great happiness to bear the Cross of the Lord. - Saint John of the Cross

Though holy doctors have uncovered many mysteries and wonders, and devout souls have understood them in this earthly condition of ours, yet the greater part still remains to be unfolded by them, and even to be understood by them. We must then dig deeply in Christ. He is like a rich mine with many pockets containing treasures: however deep we dig, we will never find their end or their limit. Indeed, in every pocket new seams of fresh riches are discovered on all sides. For this reason the apostle Paul said of Christ, “In him are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God.” The soul cannot enter into these treasures, nor attain them, unless it first crosses into and enters the thicket of suffering, enduring interior and exterior labors, and unless it first receives from God very many blessings in the intellect and in the senses, and has undergone long spiritual training. The gate that gives entry into these riches of his wisdom is the cross; because it is a narrow gate, while many seek the joys that can be gained through it, it is given to few to desire to pass through it. - from a spiritual canticle by Saint John of the Cross

In giving us His Son, His only Word, He spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word – and He has no more to say…because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts, he has now spoken all at once by giving us the All Who is His Son. - Saint John of the Cross

MLA Citation

  • “Saint John of the Cross“. Saints.SQPN.com. 23 July 2014. Web. 30 July 2014. <>