John's father had an easy life
And so John was born in poverty.
The poverty grew deeper when John's father died. John would help his family as best he could.
As he grew older, John began to work in hospitals, caring for others in need. He decided to devote his life to God in a special way by entering a Carmelite monastery.
The monastery was not all he had hoped for. While he found godly men there, John felt a lack of intensity in the spiritual life of the place.
He resolved to seek a greater intensity within himself. He embraced a more rigorous observance of classic Carmelite asceticism. He was also sent to study for the priesthood and was ordained.
Still not entirely satisfied, he was considering joining a Carthusian monastery. It was at this time that he met a Carmelite nun who convinced him to keep striving for greater perfection among the Carmelites.
John then gathered a small group of like-minded monks around him. As word spread, more and more Carmelites sought to follow the same path. His nun-mentor also asked him to serve as spiritual director for her convent.
John would face tremendous opposition, even to the point of being imprisoned, but he remained firm. By the very end of his life, even his opponents recognized the sanctity of what he was doing and that it would flourish.
Saint John of the Cross, cofounder with Saint Teresa of Avila of the Discalced ("barefoot") Carmelites, died on this very day in 1591 at the age of 49.
He was canonized in 1726 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1926. His spiritual writings, such as Dark Night of the Soul, are widely read to this day.
(from a previous post)