December 2016 - St. John of the Cross and St. Virginia Centurione Bracelli

St. John of the Cross and  St. Virginia Centurione Bracelli. Photos: Catholic News Service St. John of the Cross and St. Virginia Centurione Bracelli. Photos: Catholic News Service
St. John of the Cross

Mystic poet wrote ‘The Dark Night of the Soul’

1542–1591
Feast: December 14

A doctor of the church, John is also one of its great mystics and poets. Born Juan de Yepes de Álvarez in Spain, he was raised by his mother and entered a Carmelite monastery in 1563. He was ordained in 1567. Finding the Carmelites very lax, he joined with St. Teresa of Ávila to reform the order. In 1568, he entered the first reformed house for men, taking the name John of the Cross. He encountered severe opposition, and was even imprisoned for nine months in a monastery cell, where he began writing poems. “The Dark Night of the Soul” is his most famous work. Only after his death was John recognized as co-founder of the Discalced Carmelites. He is the patron saint of mystics and poets.

St. Virginia Centurione Bracelli

Young widow cared for abandoned children

1587–1651
Feast: December 15

Unable to persuade her parents that she had a religious vocation, Virginia was married at age 15 to the son of another notable Italian family. But he gambled, lived dissolutely and died after only five years. Virginia, despite her unhappiness in the marriage, nursed him at the end. She vowed to live celibately thereafter, bringing up her two daughters and caring for abandoned children, especially girls. She founded several schools and the Sisters of Our Lady of the Refuge on Mount Calvary. She was canonized in her hometown, Genoa, in 2003.

- Catholic News Service

Northwest Catholic - December 2016