The future St John of the Cross was born Juan de Yepes in Fontiveros, Castile, in the year 1542. In Medina he met the woman who would change his life and give him new inspiration – the Carmelite reforming foundress, Teresa of Avila.
As often happens, the reform aroused jealousy and John was kidnapped and locked in a tiny, airless cell. Flogged, half-starved, humiliated and physically almost at death’s door, he learned to rely solely on God. It was in this prison that he consoled himself by composing the early verses of his Spiritual Canticle, beginning with the words: ‘Why have you hidden yourself, and abandoned me to my sighing, O my Beloved.’
Sing to God with thanksgiving in your hearts.
The Spiritual Canticle was born from the heart of a man who knew that the love of God costs ‘not less than everything.’
The Commentary is of a later date, composed as a gift to his dearest friend among the nuns, Anne of Jesus.
At the age of 49, John of the Cross, first friar of the reformed Carmel, went to enjoy the sight of the Beloved who had guided him to the heights of union even here on earth.
Elizabeth Ruth Obbard was born into an army family and educated in England and Germany. After completing her schooling, she entered the Carmelite Order where she has been a contemplative nun for many years and is currently living in the Carmelite monastery in Quidenham, Norfolk. She has written and illustrated many books, particularly on the lives of saints.