Event—Public Programming

Four Ways of Looking at John of the Cross, 1591 – c.1730

John of the Cross (1542-1591) is one of the most revered figures in the history of Christian spirituality. From the late nineteenth century to the present, this Spanish friar has been celebrated as a theologian, spiritual guide, and one of the finest poets in the Spanish language. That is, John is known today because of his writings. This appreciation of the saint as a man of letters found endorsement from the Roman Catholic hierarchy; in 1926 John was declared a Doctor of the Church, and in 1983, patron saint of all poets writing in Spanish. Yet, for some 150 years after his death in 1591, Catholics in Spain and elsewhere held very different views of John of the Cross. They were much more interested in his bodily remains and miraculous cures than his theological teachings, his status as a protector of cities than his sublime poetry. In this Colloquium Jodi Bilinkoff uses texts and images to explore the afterlife of John of the Cross and the ways in which individuals and communities construct and deploy historical memory.