St John of the Cross was born in Spain. At the age of 21 he became a Carmelite and was allowed, at his urgent request, to follow the rule of the Order in all its austerity. Soon after he made the acquaintance of St Teresa of Avila, she persuaded him to reform the Carmelite Order. He was confessor to St Teresa of Avila and her nuns at Avila. But the reform cause much internal strife and passionate disagreements and as a result John was imprisoned in a narrow cell by his own brethren and for 9 months mistreated and slandered by all; but he suffered everything with a smile and his prayer was, “ to suffer and to be despised. Apparently abandoned and humiliated by all he died on 14th December 1591, saying, “In to thy hands, O! Lord, I commend my spirit”.
St John of the Cross is known as one of the greatest mystics of Catholic Church. His famous writings are “The Ascent to Mount Carmel”, “The Dark Night of the Soul”, “The Spiritual Canticle”, and “The Living Flame”. The major theme is “Those who are already detached from the temporal things of the world must strive to choose what is most difficult, most unpleasant and most wearisome”. In spirituality too, we must possess nothing in order to attain God, God Alone.