December 4, 2016 -
“ST. JOHN OF DAMASCUS”
The Syrian town of Damascus in one of the world’s oldest cities. It offered its most famous “son” to the Christian world; a saint who would distinguish himself as one of the greatest hymn writers the Church would ever know. St. John of Damascus was born in 675 A.D. At this time in history, Syria was ruled by Muslin Caliphs, who grudgingly tolerated Christianity. It is said that St. John’s father was a personal friend of the Caliph, enabling the saint to hold the lofty position of Prime Minister in the ruler’s court.
St. John had many enemies, who envied his position in the court. While John was away in Constantinople for an extended period of time, his detractors convinced the Caliph that he was organizing an army to overthrow him! When John returned, the Caliph arrested him and ordered his right hand be cut off. Tradition tells us that John prayed fervently before an icon of the Theotokos and his hand was restored!
The Caliph repented of his treachery and John made the most important decision of his life. He left his life of relative comfort and entered the Monastery of St. Sabbas outside of Jerusalem. Here he spent the remainder of his life, writing and composing liturgical masterpieces such as the Resurrection Canon, the Eight Tones and the beautiful and moving hymns of the Funeral Service. His works will live forever in the services of our Church.