John of the Cross

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Saint John of the Cross

Feast day: December 14.

The name originates from Hebrew and means ‘Yahweh (God) is merciful’.

Saint John of the Cross, born as John of Yepes, was an exceptional saintly figure who spent his childhood and youth in challenging circumstances. He was born as the youngest child of Gonzalo de Yepes and Catalina Alvarez, poor silk weavers from Toledo, Spain. His life was marked early on by poverty and difficulties, as his father, who came from a prominent family, passed away when he was still young.

John attended a poor school in Medina del Campo, where his family had to move, and despite initial hardships, he proved to be a diligent and hardworking student. In his youth, he experienced difficult physical labor, spending seven years working in a hospital. Nevertheless, he persevered in his pursuit of knowledge, attending a school established by Jesuits and continuing his education.

Later, Saint John of the Cross joined the Carmelite Order and became a spiritual leader. His encounter with Saint Teresa of Ávila marked his spiritual journey. Together, they founded reformed monasteries that followed a stricter way of life. John played a crucial role in spreading the reform within the Carmelite Order.

Despite the success of the reform, Saint John of the Cross also endured periods of difficulties, including imprisonment and persecution. He was subjected to torture and trials but remained faithful to his spiritual mission.

Saint John of the Cross died in Úbeda, and his body did not decay, which was seen as a sign of his sanctity. He was beatified in 1675 and canonized in 1726. His life and spiritual legacy continue to serve as inspiration to believers and seekers of spiritual growth worldwide. This story highlights how he overcame his early educational challenges and developed into an exceptional spiritual leader, demonstrating his perseverance, dedication, and inner strength in overcoming life’s trials.

Patron of: Spanish poets, the island of Ischia in Italy.