AN OUTLINE OF THE LIFE OF ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS
1542. Birth of Juan de Yepes at Fontiveros (Hontiveros),
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
Arévalo, and later to Medina del Campo.
? c. 1552-6. Juan goes to school at the Colegio de
los Niños de la Doctrina, Medina.
c. 1556-7. Don Antonio Álvarez de Toledo takes him
into a Hospital to which he has retired, with the
idea of his (Juan's) training for Holy Orders under
? c. 1559-63. Juan attends the College of the
Society of Jesus at Medina.
c. 1562. Leaves the Hospital and the patronage of
Álvarez de Toledo.
1563. Takes the Carmelite habit at St. Anne's, Medina
del Campo, as Juan de San Matías (Santo Matía).
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. Crisógono thinks February
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
1565 (January 6). Matriculates at the University
1567. Receives priest's orders (probably in the
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
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 José 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
1571 (? January 25). Visits Alba de Tormes for the
inauguration of a new convent there.
1571 (? April). Goes to Alcalá de Henares as
Rector of the College of the Reform and directs the
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 Ávila as
confessor to the Convent of the Incarnation. Remains
there till 1577.
1574 (March). Accompanies St. Teresa from Ávila to
Segovia, arriving on March 18. Returns to Ávila 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,
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
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 González de
Mendoza, Canon of Toledo.
1578 (October 9). Attends a meeting of the
Discalced superiors at Almodóvar. Is sent to El
Calvario as Vicar, in the absence in Rome of the
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 Alcalá Chapter of the
Reform. Appointed Third Definitor and Prior of the
Granada house of Los Mártires. 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 Ávila. On the next day, sets out with two nuns for
Beas (December 8-January 15) and Granada.
1582 (January 20). Arrives at Los Mártires.
1582-8. Mainly at Granada. Re-elected (or
confirmed) as Prior of Los Mártires by the Chapter of
Almodóvar, 1583. Resides at Los Mártires 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 Mártires, 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 Doña Ana de Peñalosa.
1585 (May). Lisbon Chapter appoints him Second
Definitor and (till 1587) Vicar-Provincial of
Andalusia. Makes the following foundations: Málaga,
February 17, 1585; Córdoba, May 18, 1586; La
Manchuela (de Jaén), October 12, 1586; Caravaca,
December 18, 1586; Bujalance, June 24, 1587.
1587 (April). Chapter of Valladolid re-appoints
him Prior of Los Mártires. He ceases to be Definitor
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,
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 Peñuela.
1591 (September 12). Attacked by fever. (September
Leaves La Peñuela for Úbeda. (December 14) Dies at
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.