Saint John of the Cross and the Virgin Mary

Saint John of the Cross and the Virgin Mary

He slipped in the mud and the beautiful lady held out her hand

Little John, aged about 4, fell into a pond while throwing sticks in it. His hand got dirty when he touched the muddy bottom.


Back on the surface, he saw a "beautiful lady," (the Virgin Mary, he would later affirm) who was holding out her hand to him.

He refused to grab her hand for fear of soiling it

A laborer who was walking by pulled him out of the water with his goad.


Later, his mother, a poor widow, sent him to a school of Christian doctrine. There, he fell into the well of a waterwheel. The people who rescued him marvelled that he hadn't drowned or wasn't hurt. John said he was under the protection of the Virgin Mary.

He chose the order of the Carmelites, out of love for Mary

The Carmelite brothers helped him attend the University of Salamanca, where he received a rigorous yet open-minded education.


The year of his noviciate, in Medina, John of the Cross wrote a poem (now lost) called: "In thanksgiving for the grace which (the Lord) has given him to make him worthy to belong to the said order (the Carmel), under the protection of His most Blessed Mother. »

Confessor of the Carmel of Avila

Chosen by Saint Teresa of Avila and sent by the apostolic vicar, John of the Cross became the confessor of the Carmel of Avila and the reformer of the order. After that he founded several Carmel for men. Although younger than her, Saint Teresa of Avila called him her spiritual father.

In Andalusia

His brothers of Andalusia gave the following testimony, around the years 1585-1588:

"Father John of the Cross was so devoted to Our Lady that he recited the office of Our Lady each day, on his knees... In all his homilies and conversations, he talked about the Blessed Sacrament and the Most Blessed Virgin, Our Lady."

At the hour of his death

At the end of his life, in Udeba, he suffered from the fact that some officials would not heed his advice and instead slandered him, whereby undermining his reputation. And he was ill.


On December 7, 1591, the doctor announced that John was dying. He received the last rites and died a midnight on the following Friday, while the bells were ringing the matins of Saturday, the day of the week especially dedicated to the Virgin Mary.


On the twelfth stroke, Brother Francis went out to ring for matins. Brother John asked: "What are they ringing?" When told that it was matins, as if someone had given him the signal for departure, he joyfully exclaimed: "Glory to God! I will say them in heaven."


He put his lips to the crucifix that he was holding and calmly said: "Lord, into your hands I commend my spirit." With these words he breathed his last. It was December 14, 1591.


Cf. Crisogono de Gesù, Jean de la Croix, sa vie, Cerf, Paris 1982.