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Saint John of the cross

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Saint John of the cross

  1. 1. Saint John of the Cross Spanish Mystic, Carmelite Friar and Priest By J.R. Atkins, MBA
  2. 2. Early Life • He was born Juan de Yepes y Álvare, June 24, 1541 • Father, Gonzalo, was an accountant to family silk merchants • Gonzalo married Catalina, an orphan of lower class • Gonzalo was rejected by his family and forced to work with his wife as a weaver • John’s father and brother died when he was young (3,5) • They moved to Medina del Campo so mother could work weaving
  3. 3. Education • John received a basic education then studied humanities at a Jesuit school • At age 22, he entered the Carmelite Order of Ignatius of Loyola and adopted the name John of St Matthias, 1563 • At age 23, he traveled to Salamanca to study Theology and Philosophy, 1564 • At age 25, He was ordained a Carmelite priest, 1567
  4. 4. Joining the Reform of Teresa • He met Teresa of Avila in 1567 • John found a new monastery for friars, the first for men, following the Teresa’s principals on November 18, 1568 • On the same day, John changed his name to John of the Cross • The first monastery was in Durelo, between Avila and Salamanca • Others soon followed • The Carmelite followers of Teresa become known as "discalced", i.e., barefoot, to differentiating themselves from the non- reformed friars and nuns.
  5. 5. Spiritual Director and Confessor • Teresa was appointed the prioress of the Monastery of the Incarnation there in 1571 • In 1572, John went to Avila and became the spiritual director and confessor for Teresa and the other 130 nuns there • In 1574, John accompanied Teresa in the foundation of a new monastery in Segovia • John seems to have remained in Ávila between 1572 and 1577
  6. 6. The Cross • Between 1574-1577, John has a vision of the crucified Christ • He creates his first drawing of Christ "from above“ • In 1641, this drawing was placed in a small monstrance and kept in Ávila. • This drawing inspired the artist Salvador Dalí's 1951 work Christ of Saint John of the Cross.
  7. 7. Carmelite Tensions • 1575–1577 a great increase in the tensions among the Spanish Carmelite friars over the reforms of Teresa and John • The Order was overseen by Canonical Visitors from the Dominican Order with one appointed to Castile (North) and a second to Andalusia (South) with substantial powers • In Castile, there was a balance of interests of the Discalced Carmelites against those of the friars and nuns who did not desire reform • In Andalusia, tensions rose due to his clear preference for the Discalced friars
  8. 8. Arrest • In January 1576, John was arrested in Medina del Campo by some Carmelite friars but soon released • On December 2, 1577, a group of Carmelites opposed to reform broke into John's dwelling in Ávila and took him prisoner • John was brought before a court of friars, accused of disobeying ordinances and he received punishment of imprisonment. • He was jailed in the Carmelite monastery in Toledo, where he was kept under a brutal regimen that included public lashing before the community at least weekly,
  9. 9. Imprisonment • John was kept in severe isolation in a tiny stifling cell measuring ten feet by six feet, barely large enough for his body. • Except when rarely permitted an oil lamp, he had to stand on a bench to read his breviary by the light through the hole into the adjoining room • He had no change of clothing and a penitential diet of water, bread and scraps of salt fish • During this imprisonment, he composed a great part of his most famous poem Spiritual Canticle, as well as a few shorter poems • He managed to escape after 9 months later, through a small window in a room adjoining his cell. He had managed to pry the cell door off its hinges earlier that day
  10. 10. Reform Continues • John is nursed back to health by Teresa's nuns in Toledo, then a Hospital of Santa Cruz • In October of 1578 the Carmelites demand that the Pope separate them from the rest of the Carmelite Order • John was appointed superior of El Calvario, an isolated monastery of around thirty friars, he composes his commentary on his poem, The Spiritual Canticle • In 1579 he moved to Baeza, to serve as rector of a new college, the Colegio de San Basilio, to support the studies of Discalced friars
  11. 11. Separation and Death • On June 22 1580, Pope Gregory XIII authorized a separation between the Calced and Discalced Carmelites • John of the Cross was elected one of the "Definitors" of the community, and wrote a set of constitutions for them • By 1581, there were 22 houses, some 300 friars and 200 nuns in the Discalced Carmelites • In October of 1582 Teresa dies • In May 1585, John was elected Provincial Vicar of Andalusia, a post which required him to travel frequently, as many as 15,500 miles • In 1590, John was removed from his post after disagreeing with reforms • He died on December 14, 1591
  12. 12. Veneration • He was initially buried at Úbeda • The Body was secretly moved to Segovia • The Pope intervenes • A compromise was reached Úbeda would receive one leg and one arm of the corpse • The head and torso was retained by the monastery at Segovia • he was only beatified in 1675 by Pope Clement X • was canonized by Benedict XIII in 1726 • His feast day is December 14 • In 1926, he was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI, recognized as having been of particular importance, particularly regarding their contribution to theology or doctrine.
  13. 13. Sources • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_of_the_Cross • https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-john-of-the-cross/ • https://www.ccel.org/ccel/john_cross • http://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/kelvingrove/about/collectio n-highlights/Pages/Christ-of-St-John-on-the-Cross.aspx • J.R. Atkins, MBA – j.r.atkins@emory.edu

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