St. John of the Cross
was born on June 24, 1542 in Fontiveros, Spain, of poor and simple parents, from whom he learned the importance of self-sacrificing love. His father, His father, Gonzalo de Yepes, was an accountant to a richer relative who were silk merchants. In 1529, Gonzalo married Catalina Alvarez, who was an orphan of lower class; he was rejected by his family and forced to work with his wife as a weaver. Gonzalo died in 1545 when John was around 3 years old. Two years later, John’s brother, Luis, died probably as a result of malnourishment due to poverty. Catalina took John and his surviving brother, Francisco, first to Arevalo in 1548 and then in 1551 to Medina del Campo, where she was able to find work. At the age of fourteen, John took a job caring for hospital patients who suffered from incurable diseases. This experience led him to search for beauty and happiness in God alone. In 1553, he entered the Carmelite Order and was ordained a priest in 1567.
Later, along with St. Teresa of Avila, he began to reform the Order to its former life of prayer. Some of his brothers did not accept this and had him imprisoned for nine months. In an unbearably dark, cold and desolate cell, his love and faith were enkindled. Reduced to nothing by poverty and persecution, he experienced the intensity of divine love, writing, “Where there is no love, put love and you will find love.” This was the basis of the great mystical works he gave the Church, including Spiritual Canticle, and Dark Night of the Soul. He died on December 14, 1591 at Ubeda, Spain. St. John of the Cross is the Father and Co-Founder with St. Teresa of Jesus of the Discalced Carmelite Order. He was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI in 1926.