St John of the Cross
Juan de Yepes y Álvarez (1542-1591) worked alongside St Teresa in her reform of the Carmelite Order. Unlike Teresa he grew up in poverty, and encountered deep suffering in his work nursing men with syphilis. This compassion for human pain drew him into the mystery of the crucified Christ even as a young man. In 1568 he took the name John of the Cross and began to live in a reformed Carmelite monastery. His involvement in the reform was controversial and he was imprisoned by members of his own order. However, John was also a much-loved confessor and spiritual director in his lifetime, and is well known for his beautiful poetry and commentaries on prayer and the spiritual life.
John is famous for his references to the Dark Night. As someone who speaks through imagery and poetry, in sensual and textured words full of nature and mystery, John shows us glimpses of God working in hidden and even indescribable ways. He is a mystic of the apophatic tradition, where God is sensed in absence and known in unknowing.
He was canonised in 1726 and is a Doctor of the Church.