Spiritual Canticle Of The Soul And The Bridegroom CHRIST – St. John Of The Cross & Saint Philip Howard
History knows St. John of the Cross, Carmelite friar and priest during the Counter- Reformation, not just as an iconic spiritual figure, but also one of Spanish literature. This poem of forty stanzas tells the story of the soul’s search for Christ. In it, the soul is portrayed as a bride searching for her bridegroom after having become separated from him. Overall, the poem loosely follows the narrative of Solomon’s Song of Songs and can serve as an allegorical reading thereof in light of the Gospel. It is interesting to note that one can even read the poem as an early Spanish translation of Solomon’s Song of Songs , as translations of the Bible into the vernacular were forbidden at the time. Even so, this poem is not nor does it claim to be a translation, but rather a literary interpretation.
John of the Cross (Spanish: San Juan de la Cruz; 1542 – 14 December 1591) was a major figure of the Counter-Reformation, a Spanish mystic, a Roman Catholic saint, a Carmelite friar and a priest, who was born at Fontiveros, Old Castile.
John of the Cross is known for his writings. Both his poetry and his studies on the growth of the soul are considered the summit of mystical Spanish literature and one of the peaks of all Spanish literature. He was canonized as a saint in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII. He is one of the thirty-six Doctors of the Church.
His writings were first published in 1618 by Diego de Salablanca. The numerical divisions in the work, still used by modern editions of the text, were introduced by Salablanca (they were not in John’s original writings) in order to help make the work more manageable for the reader. This edition does not contain the Spiritual Canticle however, and also omits or adapts certain passages, perhaps for fear of falling foul of the Inquisition.
The Spiritual Canticle was first included in the 1630 edition, produced by Fray Jeronimo de San José, at Madrid. This edition was largely followed by later editors, although editions in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries gradually included a few more poems and letters.
The first French edition was published in Paris in 1622, and the first Castilian edition in 1627 in Brussels.
Saint Philip Howard, 13th Earl of Arundel (28 June 1557 – 19 October 1595) was an English nobleman. He was canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970, as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. He is variously numbered as 1st, 20th or 13th Earl of Arundel.
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