St. John of the Cross was closely associated with St. Teresa in her work of founding the reformed Carmel. Both the day and month are uncertain but it was at Fontiveros, Spain in 1542 that John de Yepes was born to Gonzalo de Yepes and Catalina Alvarez.   The aristocratic paternal family rejected and disowned Gonzalo for marrying a poor girl, and the young family was left utterly destitute after his death. So dire were their straits that the childhood death of John's brother, Luis, is attributed to malnutrition. Although John's childhood was marked by suffering he knew the security of the genuine selfless love of his mother and elder brother, Francisco.
1542-1591
At the age of 21 John entered the Carmelite Order in Medina. After completing the novitiate John was sent to Salamanca and completed his studies with distinction at that famous University in the city. 
 
In 1567 Fra John was ordained to the priesthood - and at this time he was seeking a deeper contemplative life.  A meeting with Madre Teresa de Jesus in Medina led him to abandon a plan to join the Carthusians and inspired him to give himself to a new venture proposed to him by St. Teresa, namely the inauguration of a reformed Monastery of Carmelite friars. It was exactly what he was longing for. With two companions, he began the first monastery of the Teresian reform for the friars at Duruelo.

Due to "conflicts of jurisdiction" John experienced hostility from his former brother friars who objected to the new reform seeing it as a criticism of their own less austere life. He was imprisoned in a dungeon in Toledo but eventually - and dramatically, perhaps miraculously - managed to escape. From his prison experience flowed some of his most exquisite poetry, the fruit of all the hours of silent prayer he spent in that unlikely place of darkness and cruelty.


John continued to work tirelessly for the expansion of the reform. His great desire was to help others to know and love God through his preaching, spiritual direction and writing. He died at the age of 49 in 1591. His feast day is kept on December 14th.  John of the Cross has been described as one of the greatest Spanish poets of all time. His commentaries on his poems are classics of mystical theology and are still read today by those seekers after God who look for clear direction and a sure path.