Silent St. John


May 19, 2022

Silent St. John (Greek: Ἅγιος Ἰωάννης ὁ Ἡσυχαστής) (Nicopolis, today: Koyulhisar, January 8, 454 - St. Sababbas Lavra, near Jerusalem, May 13, 558) is consecrated bishop and hermit.


His parents were rich and politically influential citizens in the Armenian city of Nicopolis. He lost his parents at the age of 18 and built a monastery out of his inheritance, scaled to 10 monks. At the age of 28, the Armenian city of Kolonia applied to become bishop of the city. Reluctantly, he took up his new assignment and served as bishop for 9 years. His brother-in-law, Paszinikos, who had meanwhile reached the greatest dignity of power in the country, harassed the Armenian Church in every way, so the bishop preferred to leave Armenia and complain to the emperor in Constantinople. After communicating the situation of the Armenian Church to Emperor Zenon and Archbishop Euphemus in Constantinople, he secretly traveled to the Holy Land and never returned to the city of Colonia.

As a hermit

He stayed for a short time in a nursing home in Jerusalem and then went into the wilderness of St. Labbas Lavra, where 150 monks lived. As he later told his biographer, Cyril of Scythopolis, he was directed there by a vision, a “light cross-shaped” star. St. He has proven himself so good in every job that he has been entrusted with the position of responsible guest and chef. He took care not only of the needs of the many monastery dwellers, but also of the construction workers who worked on the construction of a small monastery not far from the lavra. A year later, he appointed a hermit of the lavra (a cave or a hut in a nearby ravine) for the monk of Sababbas, who was now considered an advanced in his spiritual life. He usually stayed there from Monday to Friday, returning to the fraternal community only for Saturday Mass on Sunday. After four years of monasticism, St. Sabbath decided that John was worthy of the priesthood, so he took him to the patriarch of Jerusalem to be ordained a priest. John asked that he be left alone with the patriarch, and there he confessed his identity, asking him not to tell anyone. The patriarch only communicated with the Sabbath that he could not ordain a monk as a priest. John then retreated completely into his cell and did not return to the lavra even at the end of the week; he no longer attended the worship of the brothers. He lived in complete desolation and loneliness for four years. When a riot broke out in the Saber-lavra in 503, John left his cell and went to the Ruban Desert on the west coast of the Dead Sea. He spent six years in a cave. He ate wild fruits and roots, and occasionally made donations from good people. When Sababbas took over the leadership of his monastery again, he approached John in his solitude, for he was anxious for him. He argued that John had already entrusted himself enough to the providence of God, now to allow room for human care as well, and to return to the protection of the brethren. John obeyed: he left his beloved loneliness and locked himself in a tiny cell not far from the Saber Lavra, under a rising rock. He lived for forty-six years before his death and no longer left his cell, even at the death of his master, Sababbas. He died at the age of 104 years.


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