Catholic Encyclopedia – Saint John the Silent

Article

(Hesychastes, Silentiarius) Bishop of Colonia, in Armenia, b. at Nicopolis, Armenia, 8 Jan., 452; d. 558. His parents, Encratius and Euphemia, wealthy and honoured, belonged to families that had done great service in the State and had given to it renowned generals and governors, but they were also good Christians, and gave their son a holy education. After their death in 471, John distributed his inheritance among his relatives, retaining only a small share, with which he built a church and a monastery. Here, with ten congenial companions, he began a life of mortification and self-denial, wonderful traits of which are recorded by his biographer. The Bishop of Sebaste drew him out of his solitude and made him Bishop of Colonia (Taxara) in 481, against which promotion John vainly struggled. In his new dignity he preserved the monastic spirit entire, and the austerities and exercises as far as was compatible with duty. His brother-in-law Pasinius oppressed the Church to such an extent that John had to call upon the Emperor Zeno for assistance. As soon as matters had been properly arranged, John left his see, went to the Laura, near Jerusalem, and placed himself under the obedience of St. Sabas, without revealing his identity. In course of time Sabas, who had subjected John to all kinds of trials and had found him ready to perform even the most common and menial labours, thought him worthy of receiving priesthood, and for this purpose sent him to Elias, the Patriarch of Jerusalem. John now revealed all, and Elias informed Sabas that John had confided to him things which forbade his ordination. Sabas at first felt very sad, but was comforted by a vision in which the true state of affairs was made known to him. John with the permission of his superior entered a hut built against the face of a rock in the desert, and here passed the remainder of his days in seclusion and perpetual silence, whence his surname. A contemporary, Cyril of Scythopolis, wrote his life. His feast is on 13 May.

MLA Citation

  • Francis Mershman. “Saint John the Silent”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913. Saints.SQPN.com. 31 July 2013. Web. 21 August 2014. <>