John of the Cross, (San Juan de la Cruz) (June 24, 1542– December 14, 1591), was a major figure of the Counter-Reformation, a Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic saint, Carmelite friar and priest, born at Fontiveros, Old Castile.
John of the Cross was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered, along with Saint Teresa of Ávila, as a founder of the Discalced Carmelites. He is also known for his writings. Both his poetry and his studies on the growth of the soul are considered the summit of mystical Spanish literature and one of the peaks of all Spanish literature. He was canonized as a saint in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII. He is one of the thirty-five Doctors of the Church.
THE DARK NIGHT
St. John of the Cross
In the delicious night,
In privacy, where no one saw me,
Nor did I see one thing,
I had no light or guide
But the fire that burned inside my chest.
That fire showed me
The way more clearly than the blaze of the moon
To where, waiting for me,
Was the One I knew so well.
In that place where no one ever is.
Oh night, sweet guider,
Oh night more marvelous than the dawn!
Oh night which joins
The lover and beloved
So that the lover and beloved change bodies!
In my chest full of flowers,
Flowering wholly and only for Him,
There He remained sleeping;
I cared for Him there,
And he fan of the high cedars cooled Him.
The wind played with
His hair, and that wind from the high
Towers struck me on the neck
With its sober hand;
Sight, taste, touch, hearing stopped.
I stood still. I forgot who I was,
My face leaning against Him,
Everything stopped, abandoned me,
My worldliness was gone, forgotten
Among the white lilies.