Saint John of the Cross (1542 – 1591) was a major figure of the Counter-Reformation, a Spanish mystic, and Carmelite friar and priest, born at Fontiveros, a small village near Ávila.
Dark Night of the Soul (from which the spiritual term Dark Night of the Soul takes its name) narrates the journey of the soul from her bodily home to her union with God. It happens during the night, which represents the hardships and difficulties she meets in detachment from the world and reaching the light of the union with the Creator. There are several steps in this night, which are related in successive stanzas. The main idea of the poem can be seen as the painful experience that people endure as they seek to grow in spiritual maturity and union with God.