Born on June 24, 1542, in Fontiveros, Spain, St. John of the Cross was a Spanish mystic and poet. He became a Carmelite monk in 1563 and an ordained priest in 1567. A year later, he was summoned by St. Teresa of Avila to reform the Carmelite Order. However, due to resulting friction, he was imprisoned in 1576 and again in 1577. During this time, St. John began writing poetry, some of his finest work outlining the steps of mystical ascent, also known as the soul's journey to Christ. Many of his poems, including "Noche obscura del alma" ("The Dark Night of the Soul") and "Llama de amor viva" ("The Living Flame of Love"), are considered the pinnacle of mystical Spanish literature. He was glorified as a saint in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII.
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