HomeKarununganvol. 9 no. 1 (1992)

The Mystical Philosophy of St. John of The Cross

Romualdo E. Abulad

Discipline: Philosophy, Religion



FORTY-NINE YEARS is not an old age to die at. And if we consider that within that relatively short span of time, the person who died was able to leave behind enough literary monuments to crown him with immortality, we know that this is something more than an ordinary spell-binding success story.


For the man that we now call the Mystical Doctor lived from 1542 to 1591, and any sketch of his life yields a picture of a contemplative man in a world replete with politics and intrigues. Though his father was the scion of a wealthy business clan, marriage to a woman of a humbler background reduced the family to a life of deprivation and insecurity. Thus, John was no stranger to poverty. His father died shortly after he was born, and so it was his mother who saw to it that he received an adequate Catholic education, learning the normal fare of the day such as grammar, rhetoric, Greek, Latin and religion. In 1563, at the age of 20, he entered the Order of the Carmelites, during which he changed his name from Juan de Yepes y Alvarez to Juan de Santo Matia.