Commemorated on June 2
Greatmartyr John the New, of Sochav, lived in the XIV Century in the city
of Trapizund. By occupation he was a trading merchant, pious and firm in his
Orthodoxy, and generous to the poor.
One time in accord
with his trading activities he happened to be sailing on a ship. The captain of
the ship was not Orthodox. Having entered into a discussion about the faith
with Saint John, he was humiliated and held a bad grudge against the saint. During
the time of the ship's stay at Belgrade by the Bosphorus, the captain went to
the city-governor, – a fire-worshipper by faith, and suggested that on his
ship was a studious man, desiring to also become a fire-worshipper.
with esteem invited Saint John to join himself to the fire-worshippers,
blaspheming his faith in Christ.
The saint prayed
secretly, calling on the help of the One Who said: "When however they lead
forth to hand you over, be not concerned aforetime what ye shalt say, and
ponder not; but what will be given you in that hour, speak ye that, since it be
not ye that speaketh, but rather the Holy Spirit" (Mk. 13: 11). And the
Lord gave him the courage and understanding to repudiate all the claims of the
impious and to firmly confess himself a Christian. After this, the saint was so
fiercely beaten with canes that all his body was lacerated, and the flesh
beneathe the blows came asunder in pieces. The holy martyr prayed, thanking
God, for being found worthy to shed his blood for Him to wash away his sins.
Afterwards they put him in chains and dragged him away to prison. In the
morning the city-governor gave orders to again bring forth the saint. The
martyr came before him with a bright and cheerful face. To the repeated
suggestion to recant from Christ, the intrepid martyr refused with his former
firmness, denouncing the governor as a tool of satan. Then they beat him again
with canes, such that all his insides were laid bare. The gathering crowd could
not bear this horrible spectacle and they began to shout angrily, denouncing
the governor, for so inhumanly tormenting a defenseless man. The governor,
having the beating stopped, gave orders to tie the great-martyr by the legs to
the tail of a wild horse to drag him through the streets of the city. Residents
of the Hebrew quarter particularly scoffed over the martyr and threw stones at
him; finally, someone grabbed a sword, and overtaking the dragged saint, cut
off his head.
The body of the
great-martyr with his cut-off head lay there until evening, and none of the
Christians dared to take him. By night was seen over him a luminous pillar and
a multitude of burning lamps; three light-bearing men made a singing of the
Psalms and censing over the body of the saint. One of the Jews, thinking that
these were Christians come to take up the remains of the martyr, grabbed a bow
and wanted to shoot an arrow at them, but held by the invisible power of God,
he became rigid. With the onset of morning the vision vanished, but the archer
continued to stand motionless. Having told the gathering inhabitants of the
city about the night vision and what was done to him by the command of God, he
was freed from his invisible bonds. Having learned about the occurrence, the
city-governor gave permission to bury the remains of the great-martyr. The body
was buried near the local church. This occurred between the years 1330 and
The captain, who had
betrayed Saint John over to torture, repented his deed and decided secretly to
convey the relics to his own native country, but the great-martyr having
appeared in a dream to the presbyter of the church, prevented this. After 70
years the relics were transferred to Sochav, the capital of the Moldo-Valachian
principality, and placed in the cathedral church.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.