Thursday, 25 August 2011

St John of Avila and St John of the Cross

At the end of one of his homilies at World Youth Day, Pope Benedict told the pilgrims that he would "shortly declare Saint John of Avila a Doctor of the universal Church." St John will therefore join his compatriot and namesake, St John of the Cross (and our own St Bede for that matter), as a Doctor of the Church.

Is there any chance of either writer appearing on the school curriculum? Well, maybe. As I wrote before, St John of the Cross does appear on a list of recommended reading drawn up by the English Faculty at University College, London. And his poems have been translated by the excellent (Catholic) poet, Roy Campbell. One I'll be using is 'Other songs concerning Christ and the soul' ('Otras canciones a lo divino (del mismo autor) de Cristo y el alma') [p.43] which has a wonderful twist (for a modern reader). If we teach Shakespeare, Donne, Herbert et al, surely there's room for at least one poem by this great poet and teacher.

It's going to be trickier with St John of Avila but let's hope there are more editions of his works on the way now that he is about to be recognised as a Doctor of the Church. His Audi, Filia is said to be the book to read but it is rather expensive.

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