John of the Cross Biography
(16th Century Spanish Catholic Priest Who was a Major Figure of Counter-Reformation in Spain)
Birthday: June 24, 1542 (Cancer)
Born In: Fontiveros, Spain
St. John of the Cross, born as Juan de Yepes y Álvarez, was a Roman Catholic saint who was a major figure of the Counter-Reformation. He was also a renowned mystic and a Carmelite friar who is considered, along with Saint Teresa of Ávila, as a founder of the Discalced Carmelites. Born into a family of descendents of Jewish converts to Christianity, John endured a very difficult childhood. He lost his father early on in his life and grew up in abject poverty. Another tragedy befell his family when his brother also died. His mother worked hard to raise her remaining children and took them to Medina del Campo, where she was able to find work weaving. John was sent to a school for poor children where he studied Christian doctrine and also served as acolyte at a nearby monastery of Augustinian nuns. On growing up he studied the humanities at a Jesuit school and went on to enter the Carmelite Order, adopting the name John of St. Matthias. He was eventually ordained a priest. The celebrated mystic, St. Teresa of Ávila solicited his help in the restoration of Carmelite life to its original observance of austerity, and together they became the founders of the Discalced Carmelites. St. John was also a poet and holds an important position in Spanish literature.