Juan de la Cruz (24 June 1542 – 14 December 1591), known as Saint John of the Cross, was a Spanish priest and poet. He is known for his three mystical poems.
Fun Facts about Juan de la Cruz (Saint John of the Cross):
- Juan de Yepes y Álvarez was born in Spain, at Fontiveros, Old Castile. His family were conversos, meaning at some point his Jewish descendants converted to Catholicism.
- The young man had a difficult childhood. His father Gonzalo, an accountant to a rich silk merchant, married Catalina, a lower-class orphan. Gonzalo was rejected by his family and worked with his wife as a weaver. When Juan was three years old, his father died, reducing the family to poverty, which likely caused his older brother, Louis, to die of malnourishment.
- In 1567 Juan was ordained as a priest in the strict Carthusian Order. Their practice of silent contemplation and solitary appealed to the young man.
- While praying in the Ávila, Juan had a vision of the crucified Christ. He drew his vision and called it “from above”, the drawing inspired Salvador Dali’s Christ of Saint John of the Cross (1951).
- Juan was imprisoned by a group of Carmelites opposing reforms. He said that his reforms have been approved by the papal nuncio to Spain, which had high authority than his superiors.
- Despite his argument, Juan was found guilty of disobedience and sentenced to long imprisonment. Imprisoned in a monastery, he was subject to weekly public lashings, isolation, and a dark, tiny cell.
- During this time, the jailed priest wrote a big part of Spiritual Canticle, his most famous poem.
- After his imprisonment, Juan was sent to Granada, in 1585 established a convent in Málaga, and was elected Vicar Provincial of Andalusia in the same year.
- To this day, Juan de la Cruz is considered one of Spain’s foremost poets. Both Dark Night and Dark Night of the Soul are considered masterpieces.
- The writings of Teresa of Ávila (who worked with in on his reforms), and Juan de la Cruz are considered to be the most important works of Christian mysticism influencing a variety of people including T.S. Eliot, Salvador Dali, Pope John Poel II (who wrote his theological dissertation on John of the Cross), Edith Stein, Jacques Maritain, and many others.
Zohar — Man of la Book
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