Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Saint John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church

Saint John of the Cross (also known as Doctor of Mystical Theology) was born in 1542 A.D. at Fontiveros, Spain. John had been born in poverty. He cared for the poor in the hospital at Medina, and in 1563, at the age of 21, entered the Carmelite Order at Medina, and was ordained in 1567. 

He was persuaded by Saint Teresa of Avila to begin the Discalced or barefoot reform within the Carmelite Order, and he took the name John of the Cross. He assisted Saint Teresa in establishing a monastery of friars, carrying out the primitive rule. He was made first master of novices, and was called to Avila by Saint Teresa to serve as spiritual director and confessor in the convent of which she was the superior. 

His reforms did not set well with some of his brothers, and his provincial ordered him to return to Medina. He refused, and was imprisoned at Toledo, Spain, escaping after nine months. After his escape, he became the vicar-general of Andalusia. He strove for papal recognition of the order, and as a result suffered indignities under his displeased superior. His reforms revitalized the Carmelite Order.

He was a great contemplative and spiritual writer, and his two best-known works are “The Ascent of Mount Carmel” and “The Dark Night of the Soul”. Pope Pius XI proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church on August 24, 1926.

Saint John of the Cross died of natural causes on December 14, 1591 at Ubeda, Andalusia, Spain. His relics are at Segovia, Spain.

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