"God looks neither at long nor beautiful prayers, but at those that come from the heart."

The Cure D'Ars

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"As the flesh is nourished by food, so is man supported by prayers"

St Augustine

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"It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and not to make provision for things to come."

Thomas á Kempis

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St John of the Cross (1542-1591)  -   Carmelite and Doctor of the Church


By St John of the Cross, OCD

Introductions to Ascent of Mount Carmel


DURING the sixteen years which have elapsed since the publication of the first edition, several reprints have been issued, and the demand is now such as to justify a complete resetting. I have taken advantage of this opportunity to revise the text throughout, and hope that in some of the more difficult passages I may have come nearer than before to the Saint's mind. Recent researches have necessitated a considerable amplification of introductions and footnotes and greatly increased the length of the bibliography.

The only modification which has been made consistently throughout the three volumes relates to St. John of the Cross's quotations from Scripture. In translating these I still follow him exactly, even where he himself is inexact, but I have used the Douia Version (instead of the Authorized, as in the first edition) as a basis for all Scriptural quotations, as well as in the footnote references and the Scriptural index in Vol. III.

Far more is now known of the life and times of St. John of the Cross than when this translation of the Complete Works was first published, thanks principally to the Historia del Carmen Descalzo of P. Silverio de Santa Teresa, C.D, now General of his Order, and to the admirably documented Life of the Saint written by P. Crisógono de Jesus Sacramentado, C.D., and published (in Vida y Obras de San Juan de la Cruz) in the year after his untimely death. This increased knowledge is reflected in many additional notes, and also in the 'Outline of the Life of St. John of the Cross' (Vol. I, pp. xxv-xxviii), which, for this edition, has been entirely recast. References are given to my Handbook to the Life and Times of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross, which provides much background too full to be reproduced in footnotes and too complicated to be compressed. The Handbook also contains numerous references to contemporary events, omitted from the 'Outline' as being too remote from the main theme to justify inclusion in a summary necessarily so condensed.

My thanks for help in revision are due to kindly correspondents, too numerous to name, from many parts of the world, who have made suggestions for the improvement of the first edition; to the Rev. Professor David Knowles, of Cambridge University, for whose continuous practical interest in this translation I cannot be too grateful; to Miss I.L. McClelland, of Glasgow University, who has read a large part of this edition in proof; to Dom Philippe Chevallier, for material which I have been able to incorporate in it; to P. José Antonio de Sobrino, S.J., for allowing me to quote freely from his recently published Estudios; and, most of all, to M.R.P. Silverio de Santa Teresa, C.D., and the Fathers of the International Carmelite College at Rome, whose learning and experience, are, I hope, faintly reflected in this new edition.

June 30, 1941.


A.V.--Authorized Version of the Bible (1611).

D.V.--Douai Version of the Bible (1609).

C.W.S.T.J.--The Complete Works of Saint Teresa of Jesus, translated and edited by E. Allison Peers from the critical edition of P. Silverio de Santa Teresa, C.D. London, Sheed and Ward, 1946. 3 vols.

H.-E. Allison Peers: Handbook to the Life and Times of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross. London, Burns Oates and Washbourne, 1953.

LL.--The Letters of Saint Teresa of Jesus, translated and edited by E. Allison Peers from the critical edition of P. Silverio de Santa Teresa, C.D. London, Burns Oates and Washburne, 1951. 2 vols.

N.L.M.--National Library of Spain (Biblioteca Nacional), Madrid.

Obras (P. Silv.)--Obras de San Juan de la Cruz, Doctor de la Iglesia, editadas y anotadas pot el P. Silverio de Santa Teresa, C.D. Burgos, 1929-31. 5 vols.

S.S.M.--E. Allison Peers: Studies of the Spanish Mystics. Vol. I, London, Sheldon Press, 1927; 2nd ed., London, S.P.C.K., 1951. Vol. II, London, Sheldon Press, 1930.

Sobrino.-José Antonio de Sobrino, S.J.: Estudios sobre San Juan de la Cruz y nuevos textos de su obra. Madrid, 1950.