The Monk John the Wilderness-Dweller

Commemorated on March 29

      The Monk John the Wilderness-Dweller: During a time of persecution against Christians the pious widow Juliania hid from pursuers together with her two young children John and Themistea. She constantly taught her children with prayers and by reading of the Holy Books. From time to time the lad John secretly visited a nearby monastery, subjecting himself to danger. One time a pious man happened upon him, who advised him to find a more secluded place for prayer. Having returned home, the lad told his mother, that he was going off to the pious solitary man. Thinking that her son would quickly return, the mother sent him off. John set off to the wilderness-dweller Pharmuphios and, having received blessing from him, withdrew into the wilderness. The young ascetic found an abandoned deep well, filled with many snakes, scorpions and other nasty creatures and, having prayed, he flung himself downwards, but sustained by an Angel, he remained unharmed. He spent the daytime in the well at prayer with cross-form joining of hands with neither food nor sleep for forty days, although the snakes did not abandon the well. One time an Angel, bringing food to the hermit Pharmuphios, brought bread also for Saint John. But the Angel did not bring the bread straight to John, so that the young ascetic should not be filled with pride. From that time the holy lad received Heavenly food through Pharmuphios. The young ascetic had many temptations from the devil to test him. Devils assumed the form of his mother, his sister, his kinsfolk and acquaintances, so as to sadden the ascetic and compel him to break off his efforts. With tears they all one after the other approached the well, beseeching the Monk John to leave with them. All this while the saint did not cease to pray and finally he would utter: "Begone from me", and the devils vanished.
      Up until the time of his blessed end, occurring during the IV Century, Saint John lived in the well, incessantly at the ascesis of prayer and fasting. Through the providence of God there came by for his burial the Monk Chrysikhios, who had asceticised in the wilderness over the course of thirty years. On the eve of his repose, the Monk John after long entreaties related in detail to Chrysikhios about his life and effort of salvation. After his death there occurred numerous miracles at the place of his ascetic deeds.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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