Thursday, June 9, 2011

St. John the Russian

Joyous feast! St. John the Confessor was born in the 1600s in what today is Ukraine and raised as a devout Orthodox Christian. Drafted into military service, the Saint fought the Ottoman Turks and was captured by them in 1711 and enslaved in the village of Procopia in Asia Minor. Although St. John's master beat him and sought to convert him to Islam the Saint refused, saying that, "Neither by threats, nor with promises of riches and delights you will turn me away from my holy faith. I was born a Christian, and a Christian I shall die."

Despite his mistreatment St. John served his master zealously and was mocked by his fellow slaves for his commitment to his duties. The Saint's master, seeing his faithfulness, offered to let him live as a free man and resettle him wherever he wished, but St. John preferred to remain in his service so that he could continue his nightly prayers in the stables.

When St. John fell asleep on this day in 1730 his body was given over to the clergy of Procopia, who buried it surrounded by the village's Orthodox Christian inhabitants. Three years later the Saint's relics, having been revealed to be incorrupt in a vision, were exhumed and enshrined in Procopia's Church of St. George, later being translated in part to Panteleimonou on Mount Athos in 1881 and in 1924 to the Greek island of Eubeia together with the residents of Procopia as part of the population exchange between Greece and Turkey.

Through St. John's prayers many are helped and in the past not only Greeks, but also many Orthodox Armenians and Turkish Muslims came to St. John's relics in Procopia to be healed. More on St. John's life can be found here. May his blessing and prayers be with us all!

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