Saint John of the Cross is widely known for his spiritual writing. He is a Doctor of the Church, master of prayer, and expert of the spiritual life. His writings cover a wide range of subjects and themes, but John is seldom acknowledged for his teachings on the Blessed Virgin Mary. How is it that a man known for his spiritual wisdom, who devoted his entire life to achieving union with God in a religious order dedicated to living in imitation of Mary, is rarely recalled in relation to Our Lady?
To a certain degree, this lack of acknowledgment is understandable considering the incredible brevity of the content in which John of the Cross speaks of the Virgin. In all his extant writing (four major spiritual treatises, fifteen poems, thirty-three letters, and several other minor works) John mentions Mary explicitly only twelve times, and most of these references are only incidental. Other spiritual masters have written volumes on Mariology while John’s meager mentions of Mary could fit on a single page. While John did not write copious amounts on any topic (his complete works fit into a single, manageably-sized volume), his explicit references to Our Lady are proportionately much smaller than one would expect from the founder of a religious order dedicated to Mary.