"The name of Jesus, pronounced with reverence and affection, has a kind of power to soften the heart. "

St Philip Neri

* * *

"The more you know and the better you understand, the more severely will you be judged, unless your life is also the more holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you."

Thomas á Kempis

* * *

"If, devout soul, it is your will to please God and live a life of serenity in this world, unite yourself always and in all things to the divine will. Reflect that all the sins of your past wicked life happened because you wandered from the path of God's will. For the future, embrace God's good pleasure and say to him in every happening: "Yea, Father, for so it hath seemed good in thy sight." "

St Alphonsus de Liguori

* * *


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


1542. Birth of Juan de Yepes at Fontiveros (Hontiveros), near �vila.
The day generally ascribed to this event is June 24 (St. John Baptist's Day). No documentary evidence for it, however, exists, the parish registers having been destroyed by a fire in 1544. The chief evidence is an inscription, dated 1689, on the font of the parish church at Fontiveros.

? c. 1543. Death of Juan's father. 'After some years' the mother removes, with her family, to Ar�valo, and later to Medina del Campo.

? c. 1552-6. Juan goes to school at the Colegio de los Ni�os de la Doctrina, Medina.

c. 1556-7. Don Antonio �lvarez de Toledo takes him into a Hospital to which he has retired, with the idea of his (Juan's) training for Holy Orders under his patronage.

? c. 1559-63. Juan attends the College of the Society of Jesus at Medina.

c. 1562. Leaves the Hospital and the patronage of �lvarez de Toledo.
1563. Takes the Carmelite habit at St. Anne's, Medina del Campo, as Juan de San Mat�as (Santo Mat�a).
The day is frequently assumed (without any foundation) to have been the feast of St. Matthias (February 24), but P. Silverio postulates a day in August or September and P. Cris�gono thinks February definitely improbable.

1564. Makes his profession in the same priory -- probably in August or September and certainly not earlier than May 21 and not later than October.

1564 (November). Enters the University of Salamanca as an artista. Takes a three-year course in Arts (1564-7).

1565 (January 6). Matriculates at the University of Salamanca.

1567. Receives priest's orders (probably in the summer).

1567 (? September). Meets St. Teresa at Medina del Campo. Juan is thinking of transferring to the Carthusian Order. St. Teresa asks him to join her Discalced Reform and the projected first foundation for friars. He agrees to do so, provided the foundation is soon made.

1567 (November). Returns to the University of Salamanca, where he takes a year's course in theology.

1568. Spends part of the Long Vacation at Medina del Campo. On August 10, accompanies St. Teresa to Valladolid. In September, returns to Medina and later goes to Avila and Duruelo.

1568 (November 28). Takes the vows of the Reform Duruelo as St. John of the Cross, together with Antonio de Heredia (Antonio de Jesus), Prior of the Calced Carmelites at Medina, and Jos� de Cristo, another Carmelite from Medina.

1570 (June 11). Moves, with the Duruelo community, to Mancera de Abajo.

1570 (October, or possibly February 1571). Stays for about a month at Pastrana, returning thence to Mancera.

1571 (? January 25). Visits Alba de Tormes for the inauguration of a new convent there.

1571 (? April). Goes to Alcal� de Henares as Rector of the College of the Reform and directs the Carmelite nuns.

1572 (shortly after April 23). Recalled to Pastrana to correct the rigours of the new novice-master, Angel de San Gabriel.

1572 (between May and September). Goes to �vila as confessor to the Convent of the Incarnation. Remains there till 1577.

1574 (March). Accompanies St. Teresa from �vila to Segovia, arriving on March 18. Returns to �vila about the end of the month.

1575-6 (Winter of: before February 1576). Kidnapped by the Calced and imprisoned at Medina del Campo. Freed by the intervention of the Papal Nuncio, Ormaneto.

1577 (December 2 or 3). Kidnapped by the Calced and carried off to the Calced Carmelite priory at Toledo as a prisoner.

1577-8. Composes in prison 17 (or perhaps 30) stanzas of the 'Spiritual Canticle' (i.e., as far as the stanza: 'Daughters of Jewry'); the poem with the refrain 'Although 'tis night'; and the stanzas beginning 'In principio erat verbum.' He may also have composed the paraphrase of the psalm Super flumina and the poem 'Dark Night.' (Note: All these poems, in verse form, will be found in Vol. II of this edition.)

1578 (August 16 or shortly afterwards). Escapes to the convent of the Carmelite nuns in Toledo, and is thence taken to his house by D. Pedro Gonz�lez de Mendoza, Canon of Toledo.

1578 (October 9). Attends a meeting of the Discalced superiors at Almod�var. Is sent to El Calvario as Vicar, in the absence in Rome of the Prior.

1578 (end of October). Stays for 'a few days' at Beas de Segura, near El Calvario. Confesses the nuns at the Carmelite Convent of Beas.

1578 (November). Arrives at El Calvario.

1578-9 (November-June). Remains at El Calvario as Vicar. For a part of this time (probably from the beginning of 1579), goes weekly to the convent of Beas to hear confessions. During this period, begins his commentaries entitled The Ascent of Mount Carmel (cf. pp. 9-314, below) and Spiritual Canticle (translated in Vol. II).

1579 (June 14). Founds a college of the Reform at Baeza. 1579-82. Resides at Baeza as Rector of the Carmelite college. Visits the Beas convent occasionally. Writes more of the prose works begun at El Calvario and the rest of the stanzas of the 'Spiritual Canticle' except the last five, possibly with the commentaries to the stanzas.
1580. Death of his mother.

1581 (March 3). Attends the Alcal� Chapter of the Reform. Appointed Third Definitor and Prior of the Granada house of Los M�rtires. Takes up the latter office only on or about the time of his election by the community in March 1582.

1581 (November 28). Last meeting with St. Teresa, at �vila. On the next day, sets out with two nuns for Beas (December 8-January 15) and Granada.

1582 (January 20). Arrives at Los M�rtires.

1582-8. Mainly at Granada. Re-elected (or confirmed) as Prior of Los M�rtires by the Chapter of Almod�var, 1583. Resides at Los M�rtires more or less continuously till 1584 and intermittently afterwards. Visits the Beas convent occasionally. Writes the last five stanzas of the 'Spiritual Canticle' during one of these visits. At Los M�rtires, finishes the Ascent of Mount Carmel and composes his remaining prose treatises. Writes Living Flame of Love about 1585, in fifteen days, at the request of Do�a Ana de Pe�alosa.

1585 (May). Lisbon Chapter appoints him Second Definitor and (till 1587) Vicar-Provincial of Andalusia. Makes the following foundations: M�laga, February 17, 1585; C�rdoba, May 18, 1586; La Manchuela (de Ja�n), October 12, 1586; Caravaca, December 18, 1586; Bujalance, June 24, 1587.

1587 (April). Chapter of Valladolid re-appoints him Prior of Los M�rtires. He ceases to be Definitor and Vicar-Provincial.

1588 (June 19). Attends the first Chapter-General of the Reform in Madrid. Is elected First Definitor and a consiliario.

1588 (August 10). Becomes Prior of Segovia, the central house of the Reform and the headquarters of the Consulta. Acts as deputy for the Vicar-General, P. Doria, during the latter's absences.

1590 (June 10). Re-elected First Definitor and a consiliario at the Chapter-General Extraordinary, Madrid.

1591 (June 1). The Madrid Chapter-General deprives him of his offices and resolves to send him to Mexico. (This latter decision was later revoked.)

1591 (August 10). Arrives at La Pe�uela.

1591 (September 12). Attacked by fever. (September Leaves La Pe�uela for �beda. (December 14) Dies at �beda.

January 25, 1675. Beatified by Clement X.

December 26, 1726. Canonized by Benedict XIII.

August 24, 1926. Declared Doctor of the Church Universal by Pius XI.

2. Cf. Translator's Preface to the First Edition, Sect. II