Specializzazione in Teologia Spirituale
Ciclo per la licenza

SO3515 God as Spouse: St. John of the Cross’s influence on St. Thérèse of Lisieux




To better understand St. Thérèse, it is both interesting and useful to take into consideration her Carmelite background; and, more specifically, her fascination and spiritual affinity with St. John of the Cross. As we will see, John of the Cross will prove to be an unfailing guide and a source of inspiration for Thérèse from the beginning to the end of her religious life.


Provide an initial knowledge of St. John of the Cross and St. Thérèse of Lisieux and his influence on her, with a special attention given to first-hand contact with their writings; offer a method for the critical analysis of theological texts, in particular those of the two Saints.


The course will begin with an exposition on Saint John of the Cross: his life and works, and his doctrine, with a particular focus on The Spiritual Canticle and The Living Flame of Love. The course will then proceed to take into consideration St. Thérèse of Lisieux: her life and works, her doctrine, and, in particular, her contacts with St. John of the Cross and her personal interpretation and experience of St. John of the Cross’s life-experience and doctrine.


Lectures in the classroom, integrated with personal study: a guideline with indications for some selected writings of John and Thérèse will be made available to the students from the beginning of the course.

Criteria for evaluation

The students may either write an essay (8-10 pages in length), or otherwise they may sit a 20-question written test.

Time distribution

One third of the study time will consist in the 24 hours of lessons in the classroom; the other two-thirds of the study time (for a total of 75 study hours) will be left to personal study.

Essential bibliography

  • SAINT THÉRÈSE OF THE CHILD JESUS AND OF THE HOLY FACE, Story of a Soul: Study Edition; Letters of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. General Correspondence, Volume I (1877-1890) and Volume II (1890-1897); The Poetry of St. Thérèse of Lisieux; The Plays of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. “Pious Recreations”; The Prayers of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. The Act of Oblation; Her Last Conversations, (M. Foley – J. Clarke et al.), ICS Publications, Washington, D.C. 1977-2014.
  • GAUCHER, G., Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: The Story of a Life, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA 20202.
  • O’MAHONY, C., St. Thérèse of Lisieux by those who knew her. Testimonies from the Process of Beatification, Veritas Publications 1989.
  • The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, Kavanaugh, K. – Rodriguez, O. (ed.), ICS Publications, Washington D.C. (USA)1991.
  • RODRIGUEZ J.V. – RUIZ F. – GIORDANO S. (ed.), God Speaks in the Night: The Life, Times, and Teaching of St. John of the Cross, ICS Publications, Washington D.C. (USA) 20002.
  • MATTHEW, I., The Impact of God: Soundings from St. John of the Cross, Hodder & Stoughton, London 20122.