St John of the Cross

Today is the Feast Day of St John of the Cross. More people in Glasgow will know of Salvador Dali’s interpretation of John of the Cross’s perspective on the crucifixion than with John’s own view itself.

This is the little sketch that gave Dali his starting point in producing the monumental work which hangs in Kelvingrove.

John’s own view is quite different yet you can still see the connection between the two works. Somehow we get an unusually high point of view on events. God’s point of view if you think God’s up there, I suppose. John’s vision has a nail as on of its focal points. Dali’s famously has no nails.

It is worth looking out John’s poetry too. Even in translation you get this incredible sense of God being just around the next corner. The idea of the spiritual life being like chasing after a mystical deer bounding free on the hillside still keeps me interested even though it is years since I first read it.

I love that poetry and love the Dali too.


  1. fr dougal says

    I love the Dali but thought it was much better in the St Mungo than Kelvingrove. SJC was the poetry/spirituality of my High Church youth.

  2. Actually, I prefer it in Kelvingrove though that may be something to do with the memory of going to see it as a child.

    I think I heard that they are shifting it again from the end of the long collonade, which I think would be a shame, particularly as it was hung in contradistinction to Stephen Conroy’s magnificent self portrait (at the end of the nearest next collonade) which I suspect most people don’t realise is also a crucifixion.

  3. When I saw it in Kelvingrove in August, it was in a small room. Although I waited till the sardine tin crush of no more than a dozen people had left, there was still no space to stand back and appreciate it – the lighting wasn’t helpful either. It was so much better at the end of the long corridor.

  4. fr dougal says

    I think it had the space at St Mungo and you had plenty of room to sit on the sofa and gaze at it. But hey, it’s still a wonderful art work.

Speak Your Mind