Saint Joseph and Saint John of the Cross

Saint Joseph and Saint John of the Cross

The convent of Los Martires is situated near the Alhambra, separated from it by a small canyon.


John of the Cross was named its prior in the years 1582-1585.


An "apparition" of Saint Joseph:


One day, John was unable to go over and hear confessions for the Discalced Carmelites, so he sent Father Peter and Father Evangelist. On their return journey, a man came to meet them. He was rather tall, with a pale, pink complexion, white hair, looked about 50 years old, and wore a black cloak, which made him look venerable. The man went and stood between them, and asked where they were coming from.


"From the Discalced nuns," Father Peter answered.


The mysterious man replied: "Your reverences are right to take care of them, for this order is greatly pleasing to Our Lord. His Majesty has a lot of esteem for them, and the order will continue to grow." Then he asked again: "Fathers, why does your order have such a strong devotion to Saint Joseph?"


"Our holy Mother of Jesus," Father Peter replied, "is very devoted to him because she has obtained many things from the Lord through him. This is why she placed the houses that she founded under the patronage of Saint Joseph."


"Here, let me ask another favor," the man answered. "Look at my face and have a great devotion for the saint that you see; there won't be a thing you cannot obtain if you ask him."


Then the man disappeared from their sight. Later, they told the prior what had happened.


Brother John of the Cross didn't show any surprise but said:  "No need to go on talking. You didn't recognize him; know that it was Saint Joseph. You should have knelt before him. He didn't appear for your benefit but for mine. My devotion to him wasn't as great as it should have been, but from now on it will be."


Paternity of Joseph and paternity of Saint John of the Cross:

[The presence of Saint Joseph was manifested through providential gifts at the right time when the table was empty and the stewards had to go out to beg... Saint Joseph certainly influenced the manner in which John of the Cross acted as a prior and spiritual father, suggesting mercy in justice, confidence in others, discretion and respect, goodness and patience, and attention to others' pains. These little stories testify to it:]


John of the Cross reproved the brothers for their faults and sometimes gave a penance, which consisted at that time in the discipline of switches. When the penitent knelt to kiss his scapular and asked for his blessing, he would put his arms around his neck, help him to his feet, and say in a gentle voice: "May God forgive you! Why aren't you more careful?"


John of the Cross did not control his charges' every action; he did not oversee them, and did not spy in the outbuildings.


Once a brother rebelled and angrily told his prior that he did not know anything. Brother John of the Cross humbly pulled down his hood, fell prostrate, pressed his mouth to the ground, and remained in that position until the exalted youth stopped talking, at which time John of the Cross rose to his feet and kissed his scapular, saying: "May it be for the love of God." And the brother became ashamed and repentant.


Augustine, a lay brother who was in a bad health, was afraid the community would not keep him. The prior John of the Cross sped things up and said: "Let us receive Brother Augustine's profession!"



Excerpt from: Crisogono de Gesù, Sa Vie (St John of the Cross), F. Breynaert, Cerf, Paris 1982