Quote of the day, 24 June: St. John of the Cross

1. A lone young shepherd lived in pain
withdrawn from pleasure and contentment,
his thoughts fixed on a shepherd-girl
his heart an open wound with love.

2. He weeps, but not from the wound of love,
there is no pain in such affliction,
even though the heart is pierced;
he weeps in knowing he’s been forgotten.

3. That one thought: his shining one
has forgotten him, is such great pain
that he bows to brutal handling in a foreign land,
his heart an open wound with love.

4. The shepherd says: I pity the one
who draws herself back from my love,
and does not seek the joy of my presence,
though my heart is an open wound with love for her.

5. After a long time, he climbed a tree,
and spread his shining arms,
and hung by them, and died,
his heart an open wound with love.

Saint John of the Cross

Poem 7, Stanzas applied spiritually to Christ and the soul

La Santísima Trinidad
Corrado Giaquinto (Italian, 1703–1766)
Oil on canvas, ca. 1754
Prado Museum, Madrid

John of the Cross, St. 1991, The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, Revised Edition, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K and Rodriguez, O with revisions and introductions by Kavanaugh, K, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Featured image: La Santísima Trinidad is an oil on canvas painting from the mid-18th century by Italian artist Corrado Giaquinta. We offer additional details based on our translation of the artwork’s description that is offered on the gallery label of the Prado Museum’s website:

The iconography is singular. On top, surrounded by clouds and angels, there is an enormous image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus surrounded by a crown of thorns. In the center on a cloud, the Holy Trinity is represented by the Father, a venerable old man, and the Son with his exposed, glorified torso that bears the wounds of his Passion. Between them flies the dove of the Holy Spirit, hovering above the Sacred Heart.

In the lower part, we see a multitude of saints on clouds. The Virgin, Saint Joseph, Saint John the Baptist, Saint Mary Magdalene, Saint Catherine, Saint Dominic, Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Ignatius Loyola, Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Francis Borgia, Saint Barbara, Saint Isidore, Saint James, Saint Cecilia, Saint Jane Frances de Chantal—all of whom were saints, as Urrea observes, that formed a part of the popular piety in the 18th century among the monarchs and can be recognized by their attributes or by the faithfulness to their traditional representations in art.

The presence of the Heart of Jesus is related to the rise of this new devotion of the time. After the revelations to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in France in 1673, the obligatory feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was established by Pope Pius IX in 1856. The devotion had been warmly welcomed by the Jesuits and by St. Margaret Mary’s Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, which was precisely the order that Barbara de Braganza chose for her foundation of the monastery of the Visitation, in which Giaquinto painted an altarpiece. In that painting, St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane Frances de Chantal adore the Sacred Heart carried by an angel, an artwork that must be dated, for reasons of style and models, earlier than this one.

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